FWS Releases Report Documenting Economic Impacts of Refuges

FWS Releases Report Documenting Economic Impacts of Refuges

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) released on June 27 the latest report that documents the 2017 economic impacts of visitation to national wildlife refuges. According to Banking on Nature 2017: The Economic Contributions of National Wildlife Refuge Recreational Visitation to Local Communities, 53.6 million people visited refuges which resulted in a $3.2 billion impact to the communities near the refuges and supported more than 41,000 jobs. The research was conducted on 162 national wildlife refuges across the country to estimate the economic impacts.

The Banking on Nature study also found:

  • National wildlife refuges are seen widely as travel-worthy destinations: 83 percent of refuge spending was done by visitors from outside the local area —an increase of 9 percent from the 2011 study.
  • Trip-related spending generated $3.2 billion of economic output in regional economies —an increase of 20 percent from the 2011 report.
  • More than 41,000 jobs (up 18 percent from 2011) and $1.1 billion in employment income (up 22 percent) were generated.
  • The combined economic contribution to communities nationwide is more than six times the $483.9 million appropriated by Congress to the Refuge System in FY 2017.
  • This edition of Banking on Nature is the most comprehensive to date, representing a 70 percent increase in the number of refuges sampled, compared to the 2011 report.

“Millions of visitors are drawn each year to the refuge system’s world-renowned wildlife-related recreation opportunities, generating local economic benefits,” said Margaret Everson, Principal Deputy Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “National wildlife refuges demonstrate that in addition to conserving our nation’s wild heritage like bald eagles and bison, migratory waterfowl populations and some of our nation’s most important waterways, these public lands and waters add real value to local economies.”

July 15, 2019