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Purdue survey reveals support for protecting open spaces

Ninety percent of Harrison County residents support the efforts of the county’s Farm, Forest and Open Space Preservation Task Force, a group charged with identifying forces that contribute to rural land conversion and developing strategies to protect open space, according to a recently released Purdue University study.
‘The results of the survey provide an independent third-party summary of the community’s opinions on county-sponsored land conservation which to date has not been completely embraced by many of our elected officials,’ said Eric Wise, county planner. ‘The overwhelming positive results should solidify the group’s resolve to continue its efforts for years to come.’
The survey also found that three-fourths of the residents believe that conserving open spaces is one of the most important issues facing Harrison County. These respondents said they support changes to county policies to restrict excess development in open areas.
Respondents also said they recognize the value of property rights, suggesting that programs targeting the protection of open space should be developed with public input so as not to negatively impact those individuals who wish to develop their property.
‘I believe that preserving some of our farm, forest and open spaces will increase property values in the long term,’ said Greg Albers, a task force member and broker with a realty company.
Additionally, more than 83 percent of respondents said they support the use of some county funds to protect farmland in Harrison County, while more than half indicate a willingness to personally contribute money to such ends.
The survey was conducted by phone in the summer of 2006 by the Social Research Institute at Purdue. A total of 713 residents took part in the survey, which was about 60 percent of the total people called.
‘This great response rate emphasizes the validity of the findings,’ said Linda Prokopy, an assistant professor of forestry and natural resources at Purdue, who led the survey. ‘The citizens of Harrison County show strong support for the protection of green space.’
Graduate student Aaron Thompson, who studied the task force for more than a year, said it’s ‘a great example of people working together to protect a resource they all value,’ he said.
The task force meetings, which are open to the public, are normally held the last Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. at the Harrison County Community Foundation building. For more information, contact Wise at 738-8927.
For more information about this study, contact Linda Prokopy by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 1-765-496-2221.

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