How well do Purchase of Development Rights Programs Contribute to Park and Open Space Goals in the United States?
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In the United States, momentum for purchase of development rights (PDRs) programs is accelerating and they now exist in 20 of the 50 states. Their primary constituents are agricultural interests, and conservation and open space advocates. The 20 states' statutes were reviewed and telephone interviews conducted with officials in each of the states who were responsible for implementing the legislation. Three analyses were undertaken. The first confirmed that a large proportion of funding was supplied by taxpayers and relatively little by agricultural landowners. However, most benefits were found to accrue to landowners not to taxpayers. The second analysis reviewed the components of state statutes and concluded that in most cases: (i) statements of purpose were confined to agricultural interests, omitting reference to preserving environmentally and aesthetically important lands; (ii) the range of benefits cited did include open space; and (iii) term and rescinding provisions were authorized as well as in perpetuity purposes, even though they offer no enduring public benefits. The final analysis reviewed criteria for eligibility and prioritizing projects and concluded that no prioritization was given to the environmental and aesthetic attributes sought by the general public. It is concluded that environmental and aesthetic contributions of PDRs tend to emerge serendipitously as an incidental collateral benefit to agricultural interests. 2009 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.
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