What are the most critical issues facing conservation efforts in the next 3 years?
Most of the issues facing conservation efforts, both locally and globally boil down to sustainability. Not only do we need to educate our youth and make sure they get outside to enjoy nature but we must show them how important a healthy ecosystem is to human health, happiness, and the future of society.
Unfortunately, our culture has been built on the idea of continued growth. The thought process that todays expenses can be mitigated by tomorrows incoming residents. Eventually growth won’t be possible and individuals in a community will need to pay for the services they use. The more people living in one area, the more services, systems and infrastructure that will be needed. Said infrastructure will cost money to run and maintain. We can see this by comparing taxes in large communities and cities to smaller rural towns and villages. The larger a group gets, the more expenses stack up.
By protecting open space at a similar rate to residential and commercial development the increase in expenses, as described above, can be stabilized into a more linear path rather than exponentially increasing. This is the theory, but getting this done can be a daunting task, especially in some communities that are stuck on the age-old notion of “more people = spreading costs further = lower taxes” … which simply not true.
Although open space may not generate tax revenue, it mitigates a tax loss from residential homes. Put simply, most residential homes, with more than one child in the school system, costs the town more than they receive in taxes. Furthermore, protected open space drives up the value of the town while also allowing animals, nature and our ecosystem to continue to operate. Larger pieces of open space can even help bring in positive revenue through tourism and selective logging.
On top of teaching our youth, we must also keep working to educate and convince our current political leaders how vital sustainable growth really is. It was said during the 2020 political race for US president that nearly all of societies problems have or will be coming from climate change. Extreme weather effects insurance rates, living conditions, the healthcare system, the stock markets, our transportation infrastructure and much more.
Although these issues seem very generic and overwhelming to think about, taking steps at a local level has a big impact. Purchasing one piece of land for conservation may not save the world, but it shows people how wonderful open space can be. This change in mentality and appreciation for our environment can make a difference for generations to come. The child who grew up riding ATVs in the woods, or swimming at a local recreational beach, or hiking town trails could be our next conservation commission member, town selectmen, state governor, or even the President of the United States.
Find your local Conservation Commission on the New Hampshire Association of Conservation Commissions (NHACC) website!