Best Nature-Friendly Places to Live in the U.S. Announced Today
Protecting Nature Reaps Millions for Local Economies
WASHINGTON, June 24 /PRNewswire/ -- The best nature-friendly places to live in the United States were announced today in a new book published by Island Press. Entitled "Nature-Friendly Communities," the book highlights nineteen communities that lead the nation in safeguarding local landscapes, natural resources and wildlife. It is the first resource of its kind to provide a step-by-step guide to help government officials and planners protect open space and natural areas while promoting economic growth. "More than 80 million of us fish, hunt, and watch wildlife annually, spending $108 billion on equipment and trips associated with nature-related activities, with $40 billion linked to wildlife watching alone," said Chris Duerksen, author of "Nature-Friendly Communities," which hit bookstores today. "For the first time, nature enthusiasts have a resource for choosing among the nation's best places to live and visit." Creating nature-friendly communities not only improves the quality of life for residents but also reaps millions of dollars for local economies, according to the book. Property values rise, boosting tax revenues; infrastructure costs decline; new employers move in, expanding the job base; and tourism increases. While state and federal governments continue to weaken wildlife and nature-related protections, cities, towns and counties are stepping up efforts to protect nature, improving the lives of local residents and cashing in on a multi-billion dollar opportunity. "In the face of rampant development which is eating up America's open space, communities have employed creative conservation measures that actually promote economic growth and vitality -- not inhibit it," added Duerksen. "These communities are learning that protecting nature makes not just good sense but good dollars and cents. And a growing number of communities are joining the ranks in taking bold steps to invest in their natural assets." The benefits of nature-friendly communities affect residents of all income levels. For example, citizens exercise more frequently if a greenway is nearby; more trees and vegetation provide better air quality; and low income residents of urban areas that protect nature are more likely to have access to affordable recreational opportunities. "Nature-Friendly Communities" shines a spotlight on the most successful approaches to protecting nature and the great work happening in communities across the country. And it provides public officials and planning professionals, working on the local and regional levels, with how-to tools to incorporate natural area protection in city and county planning efforts. "Americans have shown time and again they are willing to pay for nature protection," added Duerksen. "We consistently approve funding measures for land conservation whether our local economies are thriving or not. This book shows that if citizens make the commitment they can easily transform their communities into nature-friendly areas. The tools are there for all communities, regardless of size, political bent, or economic health." 2005 Nature-Friendly Communities Below is the list of the nineteen nature-friendly communities. Loudoun County, VA originally made the list, but recent political developments undermine nature-friendly measures. So rather than remove it, the author uses Loudoun as an example of the fragile nature of well-intended plans in the face of political pressures. Austin, TX Sanibel, FL Farmington Valley, CT Baltimore County, MD Twin Cities, MN King County, WA Dane County, WI Bath Township, OH Pittsford, NY Eugene, OR Charlotte Harbor, FL Powell County, MT Fort Collins, CO Chicago, IL Teton County, WY Pima County, AZ Dekalb County, GA Traverse Bay, MI Placer County, CA Chris Duerksen is a nationally recognized land use planning consultant who has worked with local governments all over the country. He is Managing Director of Clarion Associates and a cofounder of the Rocky Mountain Land Use Institute. He has authored many books and articles on land use and conservation issues. And he served two terms on the Fredericksburg, VA city council. Cara Snyder is an independent consultant and writer. She was formerly an associate at Clarion Associates and has a Master of Science in Environmental Education from the Audubon Expedition Institute at Lesley College. About Island Press: Island Press is the only nonprofit organization in the United States whose principle purpose is the publication of books on environmental issues and natural resource management. The publisher provides solutions-oriented information to professionals, public officials, business and community leaders, and concerned citizens who are shaping responses to environmental problems. For more information: http://www.naturefriendlytools.org
SOURCE Island Press
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