From The President’s Desk

Dear friends and neighbors,

In springtime a young man’s fancy may turn to thoughts of love (or so says Tennyson), but in that season, this not-quite- so-young woman’s thoughts turn to...hitting the trail and the road! Skiing and snowshoeing are great, but the green of Warren’s spring and summer hills and forests, seen on the run, from a bike, or on the trail, are so beautiful and restorative.

I am happy to report that, as part of our 30th anniversary theme – “public access, public benefit” - WLT’s trails will be looking better than ever over the course of the coming months. Not only will we be conducting seasonal trail maintenance and clearing (with help from interns funded by a grant from the Connecticut Community Foundation in partnership with other local land trusts), but we also have special anniversary plans to extend and upgrade some of our trails and trail maps. In addition, we plan to construct a viewing platform at our Eel Pond preserve; read more about it in this issue! We invite you to join us on one of our group walks or just see our website for parcels with public access.

And as to the public benefit of land conservation and trails, that extends beyond the health and mental well-being benefits of outdoor activity. Some recent regional studies show that there are economic benefits to be had as well. In Vermont, for example, the Gund Institute reported that the economic value of recreation accounts for $2.5 billion in consumer spending in that state, with forest-based recreation accounting for $1.9 billion of that total. And a 2016 VT Trails and Greenways study of 4 trail organizations showed that over $30 million in economic activity was supported by the use of these trail networks annually. Similarly, a 25-year study of 1500 New England towns led by scientists at Harvard Forest, Amherst College and others showed that when land is conserved, a modest growth in employment follows.

In a recent interview on New England public radio, Katharine Sims of Amherst College observed that data on New England’s most rural towns showed “the strongest employment gains...Land protection provides jobs through sustainable resource use, tourism and recreation, and creates amenity values that attract new residents or new businesses.” Certainly, economic vitality in our region depends on a number of complicated and interwoven factors. But we believe that conserved land and open space, and the recreational opportunities they afford, can be among them.

Rebecca Neary

Warren Land Trust