Recent restrictions on group activities have highlighted the value of York County’s agricultural roots, scenic landscapes and open spaces to our way of life. Donors to YCCF’s Agriculture and Land Preservation Fund believed that protecting our natural environment from development creates a vibrant York County for both today’s residents and future generations. Over the past 20 years, YCCF has helped preserve hundreds of acres, yet our community is still falling short of the 2,500 acre per year goal set forth in the York County Comprehensive Plan.
The York County Land Protection Committee formed in 2016 to find a long-term viable funding stream to protect and preserve land in York County through purchase or permanent easement. Currently, 71,555 acres, or 12.2% of all land in York County, is protected. An additional 85,000 acres have been identified as worthy of protection, which would preserve a quarter of our county as open space.
But why do we need open spaces? Preserving land also protects our natural resources like air, water, soil, plants, and wildlife. It provides areas for recreation and preserves the scenic quality and character of our community. And it helps ensure land is available for farmers to produce the food we need to live.
Before moving forward with potential strategies for funding the preservation of open spaces, the Land Protection Committee worked with York College on a survey to gauge the public’s level of interest in land protection and willingness to devote tax revenue towards the cause. Recognizing the potential for a game changing initiative, YCCF’s Agriculture and Land Preservation Fund awarded a grant to widely market and promote the survey. The grant funded a combination of public relations, educational materials, and digital marketing, allowing the survey to reach more than 1 million viewers, resulting in 2,200 responses. Of the respondents, 83% thought the goal of protecting 2,500 acres of land a year was “very important” for our community. As a result, the York County Commissioners identified a sustainable, dedicated funding source to preserve 2,500 to 3,000 acres per year in York County. Thankfully, there will be even more reason to get outdoors and cherish the fresh air!
CURRENTLY, ONLY 17% OF YORK COUNTY’S FARMLAND IS PROTECTED FROM DEVELOPMENT THROUGH PRESERVATION EFFORTS. AGRICULTURE IS A KEY INDUSTRY IN YORK COUNTY’S ECONOMY, CONTRIBUTING MORE THAN $260 MILLION
Isabel Anderson understood that York County’s agricultural heritage is an important part of our past and future. That’s why she created the Robert R. Anderson Family Fund to preserve farming in our community. Kristen E. Baylor’s family and the Brown family also contributed to create YCCF’s Agriculture and Land Preservation Fund. For more than 20 years, YCCF has helped preserve hundreds of acres, provided technical assistance to farmers to comply with conservation regulations, and provided scholarships for Yorkers to gain skills to strengthen our farming community. We are also working with key partners to fund projects to protect the economic welfare of our farmers.