The natural beauty of Our Fair State is worth about $20 billion, according to a study by the University of Vermont along with state officials. The study puts a dollar amount on natural land in order to make it easier to weigh environmental benefits while making policy decisions:
The goal of the study, one author said, is to give policymakers a better way of weighing environmental benefits as they judge regulations, building projects and other decisions.
"It's no longer a question of economy versus environment," said William Mates, an economist at the state Department of Environmental Protection. "It's really, if you want to call it that, economy versus economy. It's a question of what balance of natural capital versus physical [development] is going to be appropriate."
The most valuable areas: the Pine Barrens and the shore.