The report, titled Banking on Nature 2006: The Economic Benefits to Local Communities of National Wildlife Refuge Visitation was compiled by Service economists.
According to the study, nearly 35 million people visited national wildlife refuges in 2006, supporting almost 27,000 private sector jobs and producing about $543 million in employment income. In addition, recreational spending on refuges generated nearly $185.3 million in tax revenue at the local, county, state and federal level. About 87 percent of refuge visitors travel from outside the local area.
"We’ve always known that national wildlife refuges enrich Americans’ lives," said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director H. Dale Hall. "This report reveals that the Refuge System, while admirably fulfilling its conservation mission, also repays us in dollars and cents. Those economic benefits go far beyond the system’s mandated mission to ensure wild creatures will always have a place on the American landscape."
The National Wildlife Refuge System encompasses 97 million acres and 548 national wildlife refuges. While the primary purpose of the Refuge System is to conserve native fish and wildlife and their habitat, priority is given to hunting, fishing, wildlife photography, wildlife observation, environmental education, and interpretation.
The National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, published every five years by the Service, found that more than 87 million Americans, or 38 percent of the United States' population age 16 and older, pursued outdoor recreation in 2006. They spent $120 billion that year pursuing those activities. About 71 million people observed wildlife, while 30 million fished and 12.5 million hunted.
Midwest Regional Highlights:
- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 55 national wildlife refuges and 12 wetland management districts in the Midwest Region hosted nearly 7 million visitors during 2006 and supported more than 4,400 jobs in the region.
- Of the 13 Midwest Region Refuges in the report, DeSoto NWR in Iowa reported the most recreational visits (283,781) as well as the most jobs, at 52, and returned $4.26 to the economy for every $1 in budgeted expenditures.
- Many other national wildlife refuges also had marked returns for their budgets. Ottawa NWR in Ohio, for example, had more than 177,000 visits in 2006 and returned $20.79 for every $1 in federal budget expenditures. Minnesota Valley NWR had more than 250,000 visitors in 2006 and was responsible for 21 jobs. Muscatatuck NWR in south central Indiana—spanning just 7,800 acres—returned $21.56 for every $1 in budgeted expenditures and supported 48 private sector jobs.
read the full news release from the US Fish and Wildlife Service
read the Banking on Nature report (a pdf file)
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