Strong support for open space in the Hudson Valley

NEW YORK, NY — October 2, 2012 – A survey released this week shows that Hudson River Valley residents support open space protection, with one in four people calling it their top priority—despite the economic downturn of the last several years. 

Many Voices One Valley 2012” explores what people in New York’s Mid-Hudson Valley think of living in the region. Conducted by the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion in partnership with the Dyson Foundation, the survey results document residents’ perceptions of the region over the past 10 years.

The two organizations previously released studies of Hudson Valley residents’ priorities in 2002 and 2007. 

Overall, the protection of open space ranked tenth on Mid-Hudson Valley residents’ list of priorities with an average score of 7.0. One in four residents gave the issue a top rating of 10. Five years ago, 32% called it their top priority and the issue placed ninth and achieved a mean rating of 7.4.

“It is impressive that Hudson Valley residents continue to support open space preservation despite the significant economic downturn that has taken place since the last poll was released in 2007,” said Kim Elliman, CEO and president of the Open Space Institute. “In fact, conservation and economic development go hand-in-hand, as we have seen with projects like the Hudson Valley Rail Trail and the Walkway Over the Hudson, which have drawn great numbers of tourists to the region.”

Support for open space protection was highest in Dutchess and Columbia counties, followed closely by Ulster and Orange. 

OSI has been active in all four of those counties, particularly in Ulster, where the organization has protected more than 27,000 acres along the Shawangunk Ridge, and in Orange County, where OSI has preserved nearly 2,000 acres of farmland. 

An interesting bit of data showed that a majority of residents in Greene, Ulster and Sullivan counties believe there has not been enough development in their counties to date. Those three, along with a fourth county, Delaware, were the subject of “Private Land, Public Benefits,” a 2011 OSI study that identified more than 520,000 acres of “preferred growth areas”—lands that could potentially be developed without negatively impacting the region’s significant natural resource base.

Support for open space protection was relatively consistent across most demographic groups. It received its highest ranking among women over 45 years old. 

“Open space appeals to all segments of the population,” Elliman said. “From farmland preservation to recreational access to scenic and ecologically important landscapes, there truly is something in the natural world for everyone”

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