January 30, 2012

New Book Documents Land Preservation Successes

CHICAGO — "More than one million acres of forests, farms, and other rural lands are converted to development each year."

Rick Pruetz begins his new book, Lasting Value: Open Space Planning and Preservation Successes, with that disheartening statistic. However, instead of dwelling on the acres lost each year to development, Pruetz focuses on the positive outcomes of land preservation efforts.

Lasting Value: Open Space Planning and Preservation SuccessesPublished this month by the American Planning Association, Lasting Value shows how land preservation happens and covers practical techniques and goals. It celebrates communities succeeding in preservation activities and endeavors to inspire others. Lasting Value may be the first lay-oriented book that explores the gamut of land preservation case studies from a planning perspective.

Pruetz finds that communities are successful when they plan for rural and open space preservation with the same care and attention that they devote to development.

In 24 beautifully illustrated vignettes, Lasting Value celebrates the accomplishments of U.S. communities in the preservation of natural areas, green infrastructure, open space, rural character, farmland, and rural landscapes. The cases cite recent developments but also provide historic value by summarizing the evolution of each community's open space preservation efforts, sometimes beginning the story more than a century ago.

The profiles capture the character of diverse places from the volcanic range near Albuquerque, New Mexico, to Minneapolis's Grand Rounds park system, to farmland improbably preserved on Long Island.

Lasting Value focuses on government and nonprofit organizational activity at multiple levels: municipal, county, regional. It highlights partnerships among several jurisdictions and between government and nonprofit preservation groups.

Pruetz brings a planner's-eye view to the creative preservation solutions he documents in detail. Planning plays a big role in these success stories by promoting the benefits of open space preservation, evaluating alternative approaches, and nurturing innovative implementation strategies.

Lasting Value examines both tax-based and non-tax-based methods. Techniques profiled include transferable development rights (TDR), property taxes, real estate transfer taxes, sales taxes, open space bonds, matching funds, charitable donations of property or cash, conservation and agricultural easements (e.g. purchase of development rights or PDR), and outright purchases or fee simple acquisitions. Efforts described include those by national organizations like the Trust for Public Land and the Nature Conservancy, as well as by governments, land trusts, and environmentalists.

Illustrated with full-color photographs and maps, the book contains a glossary and is well documented with a dozen or more references for each case history. Lasting Value is friendly toward laypeople such as citizen advocates — one need not be an attorney or planning professional to appreciate the book.

Rick Pruetz, FAICP, is a planning consultant specializing in open space preservation strategies. Prior to starting his practice in 1999, he was the city planner for Burbank, California, for more than 14 years. He has written four books and co-authored two others on open space preservation planning.

A 232-page paperback, Lasting Value is available from the American Planning Association.


Roberta Rewers, APA Public Affairs; 312-786-6395; rrewers@planning.org