why conserve woodlands and trails?

Woodlands are dynamic ecosystems which are fundamental to life

When forests are disturbed by land conversion or fragmentation, the ecosystem can be severely damaged, affecting the balance between wildlife, plant life and the water supply. Saratoga PLAN helps landowners preserve and protect these important natural habitats.

  • 66% of the nation’s freshwater resources originate on forest land. Woodlands absorb rainfall and snow melt, helping to minimize floods, reduce soil erosion, and improve water filtration and recharge to aquifers.
  • Forests provide a natural habitat for animals that need or thrive under conditions found in the deep woods—60% of all at-risk species rely on forests.
  • One in three plant species in the United States is under threat of extinction. While endangered mammals and birds have commanded more public attention, scientists say it is plants (by converting sunlight into food and purifying air) that are more fundamental to nature’s functioning.
  • Land conversion decreases ecosystem function—significantly impairing watershed health and increasing the vulnerability to floods.
  • Instead of building a new water-filtration system which would cost $10 billion (with an annual $300 million operating costs), New York City decided to conserve more acreage around their reservoirs upstate—costing less than $200 million.
  • Conserved land in watersheds benefits the health and wallet of consumers—drinking two liters of city water daily costs $.50 a year—the same amount of bottled water runs up a $1,400 tab.

Connecting people to nature and promoting good health are increasingly important in an age of sedentary lifestyles

Trails are a great way for people to get exercise, reduce stress and enjoy nature. Americans love trails. However, trails are often taken for granted. Building and maintaining trails is hard work. Over the last 10 years Saratoga PLAN has helped develop over 200 miles of recreational trails throughout the county.

  • Multi-use trails contribute greatly to a region’s quality of life. The National Association of Homebuilders lists trails as the number one amenity sought by prospective home buyers.
  • Numerous studies demonstrate that proximity to a public trail elevates property values.
  • Bicycling is the 2nd most common form of outdoor recreation in the US—60 million Americans enjoy this activity.
  • Recreational and nature trails can help reduce stress and promote mental health.
  • Convenient outdoor recreational opportunities like trails help people keep fit and reduce obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, heart disease, and other health problems. On average, an obese American racks up nearly $1,500 more per year in health care costs than an American of normal weight.
  • Designing and constructing infrastructure for pedestrians and bicyclists generates significantly more jobs per mile than building roads (from a recent national study involving 11 cities.) For each $1 million spent on multi-use trail infrastructure, an average of 9.6 jobs are created.