Residents of Boise, Idaho have always placed a high value on the majestic open spaces surrounding their community. But a 2013 study by College of William and Mary undergraduate Niall Garrahan asserted that there was more than intangible value to the beauty of Idaho’s undeveloped land: he estimated that open spaces generate $11.9 million in annual benefits. Among the benefits cited in the study, which focused primarily on the Boise Foothills, were reduced healthcare costs resulting from increased exercise in open spaces, public utilities savings, and increased property values.
This study has put a spotlight on those Boiseans whose efforts to preserve public lands have generated both intangible and monetary value. One of those recognized is Doug Fowler, founder, president and CEO of Lenir Ltd., and also the project manager for the Harris Ranch Development. Harris Ranch homeowners have an unusual opportunity to protect the wildlife surrounding their homes: they pay both up-front and annual fees to a conservation fund to offset their effects on their environment. They can get a portion of the fee back if they choose to participate in activities related to wildlife conservation, such as bird watching tours or habitat restoration programs.
In a statement to Boise Weekly, Fowler emphasized that investing in wildlife conservation is a win-win for developers, homeowners, and the environment, saying, “And it's not that it's the right thing to do--which it is, and that's always a good thing to do--but there's some real economic benefits for doing it that way."
Partners for Livable Communities is proud to honor Doug and Harris Ranch with the Bridge Builders award on December 11. Click here to learn more about the honorees.