A peer-reviewed national study by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, shows that in urban areas across three regions of the country owning a home near a national wildlife refuge increases home value and helps support the surrounding community’s tax base.
According to the study, "Amenity Values of Proximity to National Wildlife Refuges," conducted for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by economic researchers at North Carolina State University, homes located within half a mile of a refuge and within eight miles of an urban center were found to have higher home values of roughly:
- Seven to nine percent in the Southeast;
- Four to five percent in the Northeast; and
- Three to six percent in the California/Nevada region.
Researchers based their findings on 2000 U.S. Census Bureau micro-level data.
Calculated in 2000 dollars, the 14 refuges in the Southeast examined in the study added $122 million to local property values. The 11 refuges studied in the Northeast added $95 million. The 11 refuges studied in California/Nevada added $83 million.
The researchers surmised that refuges boost property values in the selected regions because refuges protect against future development while preserving scenic vistas and other “natural amenity benefits associated with open spaces.”
Researchers did not include data from the Midwest, Southwest, Central Mountains and Northwest, where refuges tend to be located further from urban centers than in the Northeast, Southeast and California/Nevada region. Most refuges in the Central Mountains and South Central portions of the country either failed to meet study criteria or were affected by factors that make assessing their impact difficult, such as their location in a river flood plain or near the border with Mexico.
A 2006 analysis by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service called Banking on Nature found that more than 34.8 million visits to refuges in fiscal year 2006 generated $1.7 billion in sales, almost 27,000 jobs and $542.8 million in employment income in regional economies. An updated analysis is expected by 2013.