New Study Finds Home Values Are Higher Near National Wildlife Refuges

by Jessica Goad

A new study released today by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finds that in three regions, homes sited close to national wildlife refuges have a higher value than those that are further away.

The study, “Amenity Values of Proximity to National Wildlife Refuges,” provides even more evidence that protected public lands are good for local economies and communities, despite what some opponents in Congress and their industry allies might claim.

The Fish and Wildlife Service called this report “the first national study to analyze national wildlife refuges’ impact on land values.” It finds:

On average, being in close proximity to a [national wildlife refuge] increases the value of homes in urbanized areas, all else equal. Specifically, we find that homes located within 0.5 miles of a [refuge] within 8 miles of an urban center are valued:

–  4% – 5% higher in the Northeast region;

–  7% – 9% higher in the Southeast region; and

–  3% – 6% higher in California/Nevada region.

Census data was used to focus on the 93 refuges in the lower 48 states within two miles of an urban area. Additionally, they found that total capitalized value of a specific refuge can be anywhere between $1 million and $40 million.

In addition to raising home values, the Department of the Interior found that national wildlife refuges contributed $4 billion to the economy and supported 32,000 jobs in 2010.

Despite their extraordinarily valuable contributions to local economies, some Republicans in Congress have sought to roll back protections for national wildlife refuges and limit the ability to designate new ones.

Rep. John Fleming (R-LA), introduced the National Wildlife Refuge Review Act (H.R. 3009) which would prohibit the Secretary of the Interior from establishing new wildlife refuges and turn over that authority to Congress, which has not passed any meaningful land conservation bills since John Boehner (R-OH) has been Speaker of the House.

And the Sportsmen’s Heritage Act (H.R. 4089), introduced by Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL), would roll back a number of important environmental laws for national wildlife refuges.

Despite the partisan attacks on our public lands, evidence continues to mount showing that protecting them offers a range of economic benefits. For example, a report from Headwaters Economics earlier this month determined that over 40 years jobs increased by 300% in rural Western counties with more than 30% protected lands.

— Jessica Goad is the Manager of Research and Outreach for the Public Lands Project at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

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