Delaware External Affairs Advisor
The clock is ticking on our ability to protect the natural world, and open space and conserved land remain a precious thing in Delaware. To celebrate land conservation, the Delaware Land Protection Coalition announced today the first Annual Conservation Day in Legislative Hall on Wednesday, May 11 from 12:00 to 4:00 pm.
The day will shine a spotlight on both the importance of land conservation and the coalition’s goal of an additional $15 million from the state fiscal year 2023 Bond Bill for Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) open space investments.
The Delaware Land Protection Coalition (DLPC) is a group of conservation-focused organizations committed to increasing land protection, thereby also protecting our natural, cultural, historical and recreational resources. Coalition members will be meeting with legislators on May 11 to highlight the importance of open space, including how it:
- Helps to address climate change by capturing carbon through forest conservation and alleviating flooding caused by increased rainfall and storms. In the U.S., forests capture and store almost 15% of the carbon dioxide emissions every year—equivalent to annual emissions of 165 million cars. And for every $1 invested in land protection there is a $5 return in reduced flooding impacts. Preserving open space was also suggested as one of many remedies to address climate change in the recent DNREC Climate Change Action Plan.
- Provides enormous economic benefits for a state known as an outdoor recreation and retirement destination. Delaware’s tourism industry contributes $3.5 billion to the economy, and much of that industry is focused on outdoor experiences. Delaware has also become a retirement destination of choice for out-of-state retirees, and while our low taxes are an important factor, the quality of life and easy access to natural resources is another important driver to attract and retain this important tax base for the state.
- Protects water quality by offering natural filtration systems and preventing contamination caused by development.
- Supports mental and physical health, as research has connected green spaces and outdoor recreation to a variety of health benefits, including greater relaxation and physical activity opportunities. The value of open space is also a critical component of the State’s public health infrastructure, which was crystalized by the 72% increase in State Park visitation realized during the first year of the pandemic.
“Investments in open spaces contribute to our sense of community and identity of place, and equitable access to and provision of open spaces are both critical to the health and well-being of our cities, our environment and our people,” said Lori Brennan, executive director of The Nature Conservancy in Delaware & Pennsylvania.
“Delaware has done a good job of preserving some priceless natural spaces over the years, but more must be done, not only because of what they contribute to the state’s natural beauty but also how open spaces fight climate change, reduce flooding and connect people with nature.”
Added Director of Conservation and Watershed Planning Michelle Schmidt of Delaware Center for the Inland Bays: “Land protection is a cornerstone of the Center's work, as it helps to achieve our water quality and habitat protection goals and it helps mitigate climate change. It is one of the best green infrastructure practices because it is associated with so many different benefits. We are very excited about the work the DLPC is doing, and we are very happy to be a part of it.”
Thanks to state investments over the years, Delaware residents and future generations are able to enjoy White Clay Creek, Killens’ Pond and Cape Henlopen State Park, to name just a few. Open space programs are vital to protecting Delaware’s natural heritage and resources as land acquisition costs rise and development pressures increase.
Delaware must act now to preserve more natural, cultural, historical and recreational resources before it is too late. To learn more about open space advocacy, contact Emily Knearl, Delaware external affairs advisor, email@example.com.
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 76 countries and territories—37 by direct conservation impact and 39 through partners—we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.