Thursday, October 6, 2005
Interior issued a report BANKING ON NATURE 2004 today
that documents the economic impact of national wildlife refuges
on the economy. The report, Banking on Nature 2004: The Economic
Benefits to Local Communities of National Wildlife Refuge Visitation,
was compiled by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service economists.
Banking On Nature_2004
According to the study, nearly 37 million people visited
national wildlife refuges in 2004, creating almost 24,000 private
sector jobs and producing about $454 million in employment income.
Additionally, recreational spending on refuges generated nearly
$151 million in tax revenue at the local, county, state and federal
“Our national wildlife refuges are not only beautiful places
where fish and wildlife can flourish, they are also economic engines
for their local communities, providing jobs, customers for local businesses,
and tax revenue for local governments,” Secretary Norton said.
“With 17 new refuges and a 30 percent increase in the refuge system budget
since 2001, we are ensuring our refuges continue to be places
of awe and wonder as well as economic vitality for local communities
across the country.”
The report reinforces the travel industry’s belief that ecotourism is
becoming big business, according to Roger Dow, president of the Travel
Industry Association of America, who unveiled the report with Norton,
The study measured the economic impact of ecotourism,
large numbers of people traveling substantial distances for outdoor
activities like wildlife observation and photography, as well as more
traditional refuge programs like hunting and fishing.
Highlights from the Banking on Nature 2004 report include:
· More than 80 percent of retail sales came from people
who traveled some distance to get to national wildlife refuges
and the recreational opportunities they offer. Local residents
accounted for just 17 percent of total retail sales to refuge visitors.
· The Southeast led the Refuge System in economic impact.
With nearly 11 million visitors last year, national wildlife refuges
in the Southeast created more than $451 million in economic activity
and more than 8,500 jobs.
· The report shows a considerable “consumer surplus” of
more than $1 billion in 2004. Consumer surplus is a measure of
how much more people are willing to pay for recreation
than it actually costs them.
Using findings from 93 national wildlife refuges considered typical
in terms of the nation’s recreational interests and spending habits,
the report analyzed recreational participation in and expenditures
for freshwater fishing, saltwater fishing, migratory bird hunting,
small game hunting, big game hunting and non-consumptive activities,
including wildlife observation. Costs considered in the calculation
of the total economic activity included money spent for
food and refreshments, lodging at motels, cabins, lodges or campgrounds,
In making its calculations, Banking on Nature 2004 used
the Fish and Wildlife Service’s “2001 National Survey of Fishing,
Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation” and
the visitation numbers from Refuge Management Information System.
Refuges with fewer than 1,500 visitors per year and those in Hawaii
and Alaska (because travel there is so expensive) were excluded from
the final calculations.
The National Wildlife Refuge System encompasses nearly 100 million acres
and 545 national wildlife refuges. Priority uses of the National Wildlife
Refuge System are hunting, fishing, photography, wildlife observation,
environmental education, and interpretation.