We don’t want to downplay the hardships caused by the recession. But there’s a green lining in the economic cloud.

A front page article in The New York Times caught my eye last Friday:

“Lower Prices Aid In Conservation: Some See Silver Lining to Dip in Real Estate.”

Writer Leslie Kaufman explained:

“[There’s] a green lining of sorts in a credit crisis that has depressed real estate prices, prompted foreclosures and derailed development projects across the nation.”

Plummeting real estate prices have made it possible for conservationists to buy land that was out of their reach just a year ago.

Kaufman continued:

“[P]urchases by conservationists and state and local governments assure that thousands of acres will be put aside in perpetuity for parks, watershed protection or simply preservation of open space.”

We reached out to four photographers who have documented some of the spaces described in Kaufman’s article and asked them to share their work with MatadorChange readers.

1

Everglades

1.The Florida Everglades. Photo by Michael Pancier Although the Florida Everglades comprise the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States, this World Heritage Site, International Biosphere Reserve, and Wetland of International Importance is threatened by draining and development. Such activity has undermined the native plant and wildlife species, as well as the stability of this entire ecosystem. At risk species include manatees, the American crocodile and American alligator, and the Florida panther.

2

NJ Marshland

2.New Jersey Marshes. Photo by Mario Burger If you ever take NJ Transit from New York City to Newark's Liberty International Airport, you'll ride through New Jersey's marshlands. Though New Jersey's nickname is the Garden State, its marshes have long been abused as dump sites. Many of the marshes are part of the state's brownfield clean up program (local officials have their work cut out for them: the state has more than 10,000 brownfield sites), but conservationists argue that the state needs to expand its protected marsh program as well, as marshes are important breeding grounds for migratory birds.

3

Boise

3.Boise, Idaho. Photo by Pulok Pattanayak Big city folks like myself think of places like Boise, Idaho as nothing but open land. As the Idaho Conservation League points out, though, even seemingly pristine places are threatened by all sorts of human activity. The Boise River, for instance, is currently at risk of pollution by a proposed open pit mine--the world's largest.

4

Jamaica Bay

4.Jamaica Bay, Queens, New York. Photo by Paul Grebanier Yes, that's the New York City skyline you see in the background. The Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge currently consists of 9,155 acres and is home to more than 325 bird species. Who'd have thought salt marsh, upland field and woods, and fresh and brackish water ponds could all be found within New York City limits? The wildlife refuge is part of Gateway National Recreation Area, a park that offers biking, surfing, fishing, and camping.