Space Program – the open space kind

May 23, 2012

The other day I was leafing though the April issue of Natural History magazine and reached the last page, the “Endpaper” column. Written by Rick Pruetz it was entitled, “Space Program.” But the photos were not of stars, planets, or rocket ships—they were of a covered bridge over a wooded creek and of a beautiful farm with forested hills in the background.

Turns out Mr. Pruetz has written a book called, “Lasting Value: Open Space Planning and Preservation Successes” (2012: American Planning Association) and this article is adapted from it.

He writes that of the roughly two dozen counties across the U.S. that he found to be “exceptionally creative” in their land-use practices, three were in Pennsylvania: Berks County, Chester County, and Lancaster County (way to go!). Each has lost substantial land to sprawl and faces increasing pressure as there is less land available. Each has found unique ways to keep farmland in farming, protect rural values and villages, and build the public-private sector relationships necessary to permanently protect open lands.

From Berks County’s Agricultural Conservation Easement Program to Chester County’s Linking Landscapes to multiple programs in Lancaster County, the programs have been tailored to the specific needs of the community and reflect the values of the people who live there.

Pruetz writes that success stories like these “demonstrate the value of dedicated professionals, farsighted elected officials, and responsible citizens. We can save rural land, if we take action while land is still affordable and—most important—available.”