Land preservation's link to the environment, economy, and society in the Northern Forest of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and the Adirondack region of New York
The Northern Forest remains one of the last intact, privately owned forests in the United States. Rural areas of northern Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and the Adirondack region of New York struggle to prosper in an economy driven by timber, tourism, and a propensity for rural residential sprawl. Despite recent and pending land sales involving millions of acres and state growth-management techniques filled with loopholes, inhabitants of the Northern Forest grapple to maintain the region's economic, environmental, and social character (triple bottom line). It is uncertain if the states have been successful in their goals to protect these characteristics or if continued intervention and redesign of land use and preservation are needed. It is hypothesized that land preservation could be the solution to these problems. Specifically, those counties with higher acreages of preserved land will exhibit a stronger positive correlation with economic, environmental, and social sustainability characteristics.
This dissertation develops a model composed of environmental, economic, and societal variables. The methodology employs a statistical, multiple linear-regression technique to test the relationships. The results indicate that not all variables are correlated with land preservation, however, two variables from each of the triple bottom line factors are significant: population change from 1990 to today (social), the senior citizen population (social), home value (economic), household income (economic), mean elevation (environmental), and percentage of timberland (environmental). Concluding observations and recommendations indicate that current state growth-management techniques and land preservation are not stemming population growth and fragmentation of the land base. In areas with large acreages of preserved land, residents are impacted by rising prices, which could be caused by second home development, and generally have lower incomes. Senior citizens might be a target group for outreach and education about land preservation advantages. In addition, to properly manage the future of land preservation in the region, a new 3+1 (three states plus the Adirondack region) regional growth management and preservation board, with the ability to implement planning policy is one solution considered.