Al Jubitz is a Sylvan resident.

There are many reasons to support Measure 26-152, the natural areas levy on your May 21 ballot. As a Portland resident, I support the maintenance and restoration of our region’s extraordinary natural areas. This measure would provide a host of benefits, from habitat preservation to recreation. But as a business owner, I’d like to focus on one benefit in particular: Measure 26-152 will positively impact our local economy. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that access to parks and natural areas enhances the quality of life for residents and boosts our economy. In fact, a 2010 study out of the University of Oregon found that each $1 million invested in forest or watershed restoration generates 14 to 23 new jobs and injects over $2 million into the local economy. A robust system of parks and natural areas can boost local businesses, create jobs and positively impact surrounding neighborhoods. Proximity to parks and natural areas creates an enhanced quality of life that attracts new residents and businesses. Access to nature improves health and wellbeing and creates a more peaceful neighborhood environment. Natural areas like the Glendoveer Fitness Trail in East Portland allow residents to escape their busy daily lives, release stress and get in touch with the important things in life. Parks and natural areas also boost the economy by attracting tourists and providing opportunities for businesses catering to tourists and outdoor enthusiasts. As more people are drawn to the area, businesses and communities thrive. Urban parks and open spaces can stimulate commercial growth and jump start neighborhood revitalization. And let’s not forget the value of ecosystem services in the form of clean water, fresh air, erosion prevention and flood control. Restoration and maintenance projects funded by Measure 26-152 will directly create jobs for construction workers, landscapers, heavy equipment operators, engineers and other business sectors. These are jobs that can't be outsourced overseas because these are local projects, so the economic boost stays in the region. Voters have twice approved bond measures to acquire and set aside lands for conservation and preservation. Metro now manages almost 16,000 acres of parks natural areas. However, these lands are in urgent need of large and small-scale maintenance and restoration work. Unfortunately, by law, the bond funds can only be used for land acquisition. We’ve already invested in these lands. Now we need to protect our investment to avoid even costlier problems in the future. This measure will cost the typical homeowner $20 per year — about the cost of a pizza. That’s a small price to pay for a plan that will protect our precious natural areas, create jobs and boost our local economy. Please join me in voting yes on Measure 26-152 by May 21 — it just makes good business sense and keeps our region green.

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