New report: Conservation, recreation and preservation generate $1 trillion a year for U.S. economy

Oct 12, 2011

With the unemployment rate still over 9% in the third quarter Labor Department jobs report, study illustrates job growth potential.

WASHINGTON (Oct. 12, 2011) – Officials looking for cost effective ways to stimulate the economy should look no further than out their own window: That’s where the authors of a new economic study demonstrate that the great outdoors and historic preservation generate a conservative estimate of more than $1 trillion in total economic activity and support 9.4 million jobs each year.

“As a former Secretary of the Interior, governor, senator and mayor, I have witnessed firsthand how historic preservation, conservation and outdoor recreation result in tremendous benefits to our nation’s economy,” said Dirk Kempthorne. “This study is a valuable tool for reaffirming and quantifying those benefits.”

“Sportsmen put billions of dollars of their own money annually into conservation through the licenses they buy and the excise taxes that they pay on hunting and fishing equipment,” added Lindsay Thomas, a former U.S. Congressman and current chairman of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. “This combined with the other taxes that are paid through activities associated with outdoor recreation and historic preservation, total over $100 billion annually contributed to state and federal coffers.”

Conducted by Southwick Associates, the study is packed with highlights including:

• In 2006, the total contribution from outdoor sports in the United States was nearly $730 billion a year, generating more than 6.4 million U.S. jobs and $99 billion in federal and state tax revenues. This includes hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing and other outdoor sports that include hiking, camping, skiing, paddle sports and bicycling.

• In 2006, the combined spending effect of hunting, fishing and wildlife watching associated with National Forest Service land totaled $9.5 billion in annual retail sales, supported 189,400 jobs and provided $1.01 billion in annual federal tax revenues.

• Every million dollars invested in residential historic rehabilitation generates approximately 36 jobs, $1.24 million in income and nearly $200,000 in state and local taxes.

• In 2010, 15 million visitors to Civil War battlefields managed by the National Park Service, in just five states (MO, PA, SC, TN, and VA), generated 7,700 jobs.

Commissioned by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), the study is being conducted as part of a larger ongoing effort by NFWF to determine the economics associated with natural resource conservation.

The study has commanded the attention of many, including America’s Voice for Conservation, Recreation and Preservation (AVCRP), a coalition of more than 770 organizations representing tens of millions of citizens with diverse political backgrounds who have united in support of conservation, recreation and preservation programs as a means to create jobs and improve the economy.

“Natural resource conservation and historic preservation programs provide hundreds of thousands of jobs and strong returns on public investments that primarily help rural communities and cannot be exported abroad,” said John L. Nau III, chairman emeritus of the Civil War Trust and co-chair of the AVCRP. “This country needs jobs that leverage private investment and conserve our precious natural resources and historic spaces.”

“The jobs that our public lands and cultural heritage create are jaw-dropping,” said William H. Meadows, president of The Wilderness Society and the AVCRP’s other co-chair. “This study is yet more evidence that investing in the environment is good for the fiscal health of our country.”

Alan Rowsome
202-429-2643