Network Funds Regional Conservation Economy Study

 The Down East Research and Education Network (DEREN) is pleased to announce that they are commissioning a study that looks at the economic impact of conservation in Down East Maine.  The study will evaluate the economic contributions of land trusts, conservation organizations, and research and education institutions in Hancock and Washington Counties.

 The project is sponsored by the group's fiscal agent, the Frenchman Bay Conservancy, and is generously funded by the Elmina B. Seawall Foundation, the Davis Conservation Foundation, the Maine Community Foundation, and the Hancock and Washington County Funds of the Maine Community Foundation.  

The Network has hired Phillips Consulting in Clinton, which includes two researchers from the University of Maine Department of Economics.  The project will also employ several University of Maine students who will help gather some of the data.  

The study will analyze the economic value of conservation research and education, regional land trust and conservation organizations as employers, and the value of the region's aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems for their natural services.

 According to Maine state GIS data, approximately 16 percent of Hancock County and 28 percent of Washington County are in some form of land conservation including parks, preserves, refuges, and easements.  Significant natural assets in the two-county region include  over 200,000 acres of  ponds  & lakes, 4,300 miles of streams and rivers, 1,000 miles of coastline, and 2,700 square miles of  forest cover.  The region also has 13 land trusts, 16 conservation organizations, 4 colleges, and 5 research institutes. 

DEREN President, Lisa Heyward, said, "Studies show that this region contains many of the cleanest, most natural, and least developed watersheds in the eastern United States.   The information generated from this study will be used to help municipalities, planners, and landowners make informed land-use decisions. "

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