In a town, there are often debates about whether it’s worth sacrificing tax revenue for the sake of preserving natural resources. Such a debate is happening in the town of Stoddard, NH, where a 40-acre forest is at the center of the discussion. The question raised is whether the loss of tax revenue from preserving the forest is worth the legacy of protecting the environment and ensuring the well-being of the community. In this article, we’ll explore both sides of the argument and shed light on why preserving this forest might actually be the more valuable choice in the long run.
The Short-Term Loss of Tax Revenue
The simple answer to the question of tax revenue loss is yes, there will be a short-term loss of tax revenue if the 40-acre forest is turned into conservation land owned by the town. If the land were to be divided into four separate house lots, which is feasible, and each lot was developed with million-dollar houses, the tax bill for each property would range from $8,000 to $10,000, resulting in a total tax revenue of $40,000 per year.
The Ecological Cost and Future Expenses
However, focusing solely on short-term tax revenue fails to consider the ecological cost and potential future expenses. Developing the land would result in the loss of wildlife habitat, the deterioration of water quality in the lake due to the loss of filtration capabilities of the undeveloped shoreline, and a decline in property values. To address these issues, the town might end up spending millions of dollars on remediation and filtration facilities, as observed in other areas facing similar problems.
If the future expenses of cleanup and remediation were to reach one million dollars, it would take 25 years of the $40,000 tax revenue per year to cover the cost. Considering the examples of other places that had to spend taxpayer money on fixing issues caused by overdevelopment, it becomes clear that the loss of tax revenue is not actually being lost; it will just be spent in the future, likely at a much higher cost.
Benjamin Franklin’s Wisdom
As Benjamin Franklin famously said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Keeping this quote in mind, let’s examine the benefits of preserving the forest for the town of Stoddard.
Access to the Property and Ecological Sustainability
By purchasing the 40-acre forest and designating it as conservation land, the Stoddard Conservation Commission ensures that the public will have access to the property. While access will be limited to protect the fragility of the ecosystem, there are plans in place to create an ecologically sustainable trail experience. This trail would showcase the key features of the property while still preserving the flora and fauna within. Additionally, there are ideas to provide access to the rustic cabin on the property for school projects and outdoor-based learning, benefiting the local elementary school and enhancing historical education through tree categorization.
Ecotourism Potential and Economic Benefits for the Town
One significant advantage of having preserved land and an eco-destination within the town is the potential for ecotourism. By offering a multi-day hike and camping excursion led by the Stoddard Conservation Commission, the town can attract visitors interested in nature and conservation. This ecotourism boom would benefit the local community, including small, home-based businesses, and potentially stimulate economic growth. With no other plans for economic development in the town, the little Big Forest could become a catalyst for positive change and help boost the town’s economy.
In conclusion, the value of tax revenue must be weighed against the long-term legacy and benefits that come with preserving natural resources. While there may be a short-term loss of tax revenue if the 40-acre forest in Stoddard, NH, is turned into conservation land, the environmental and economic advantages far outweigh this initial cost. The ecological cost of development, such as habitat loss, water quality decline, and property value depreciation, cannot be ignored. By preserving the forest, the town of Stoddard has the opportunity to create an eco-destination, promote ecotourism, provide educational opportunities, and support local businesses. As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Therefore, it is vital for the community to come together and support the preservation of the Little Big Forest for the benefit of present and future generations.
To learn more about this important cause and how you can contribute, visit www.thelittlebigforest.com. Together, we can protect our natural heritage and create a brighter future for the town of Stoddard, NH.