Along the coast of southern Maine, the need to conserve natural buffers in order to protect rivers and wetlands has become a focal point for tensions between development and conservation interests. In this rapidly developing landscape, decision-makers often feel they must choose development over conservation or restoration to support local economies. While there is scientific evidence that underscores the value of protecting natural buffers around sensitive water bodies, local decision-makers need additional place-based, economic information about the ecosystem services that these lands provide and the range of tradeoffs that are implied in related land use decisions. A 2010 Collaborative Research project led by the Wells Reserve addressed this need by working with local, state, and federal stakeholders to better understand, measure, and communicate how southern Mainers value natural buffers and the tradeoffs they are willing to make to protect these critical resources for the future.
This report summarizes an analysis of ecosystem service values provided by protection and restoration of riparian land in the Merriland, Branch Brook and Little River (MBLR) watershed in south coastal Maine. These results are drawn from "Choices for Our Land and Water: A Survey of Kennebunk, Sanford and Wells Residents," conducted by the project team. Results show the type of economic value that riparian land provides to the public, and the tradeoffs that the public would be willing to accept.
Johnston, R.J., C. Feurt and B. Holland. 2015. Ecosystem Services and Riparian Land Management in the Merriland, Branch Brook and Little River Watershed: Quantifying Values and Tradeoffs. George Perkins Marsh Institute, Clark University, Worchester, MA and the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve, Wells, ME.