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An ounce of prevention

February 2, 2012

The Delaware Highlands Conservancy works to conserve the Upper Delaware region’s lands, waters, and quality of life in partnership with landowners and communities. Sustaining our natural assets and way of life now and for future generations requires careful planning and forward-thinking land-use strategies now, not after our rural landscapes are lost to the type of subdivisions that have characterized large portions of American suburbia. The conservancy encourages the use of conservation subdivisions as an important planning and development strategy, and we have worked with municipalities and counties throughout the region to provide information and professional seminars on this topic.

Conservation subdivisions are not a tool for stopping development. Rather, they guide development patterns in ways that assure the healthy lands and clean waters we value here can be sustained. They are not one size fits all; municipalities work with developers to determine the best course for each development plan based on the natural features of the particular property. Conservation subdivisions lower the risk of environmental hazards including flooding and water pollution, increase community focus on land stewardship, and promote healthier lifestyles due to a living environment that encourages physical activity. Many examples nationwide demonstrate this type of development as economically more successful for the builder and in terms of resale value.

A large part of the backlash toward development is due to bad planning practices that have led to sprawl and degraded living environments. Conservation planning alleviates that backlash, and allows communities to support the economic development generated by home building while maintaining healthy environments.

The conservancy protects working landscapes like farms and working forests, as well as natural spaces. We encourage communities to generate real connections to the lands where they live, work, and play, and to develop a sense of responsibility for sustaining healthy lands and clean waters integral to good health and productive lives. Sound planning like conservation subdivisions helps achieve these goals.

Greg Belcamino
President, Board of Directors
Delaware Highlands Conservancy
Hawley, PA and Narrowsburg, NY