This past February, Mitt Romney told a Nevada newspaper that he doesn’t know “what the purpose is of” public lands.
But a new report released today by the U.S. Department of the Interior quantifies the economic impacts of public lands managed by the agency. The results are impressive:
The Department of the Interior plays a substantial role in the U.S. economy, supporting over two million jobs and approximately $385 billion in economic activity for 2011.
The study analyzes the total economic impacts of the agency’s activities on public lands and waters including mining, oil and gas drilling, timber, and outdoor recreation.
Mitt Romney will be campaigning in Colorado tomorrow, a state with a plethora of public lands — including Rocky Mountain National Park, which supported 2,641 jobs in 2010. And as today’s report shows, Colorado saw 74,195 jobs and more than $14 billion created by Interior Department activities in 2011.
The Interior Department report shows once again that protecting places creates jobs. National parks, national monuments, and other places that are set off limits to development stimulate local economies and create jobs like local outfitters, hotel, and restaurant owners in gateways towns. As the report states:
Americans and foreign visitors made nearly 435 million visits to Interior managed lands. These visits supported over 403,000 jobs and contributed around $48.7 billion in economic activity. This economic output represents about 6.5% of the direct output of tourism related personal consumption expenditures for the United States for 2011 and about 7.6% of the direct tourism related employment.
Other recent studies have found that jobs in the outdoor recreation industry outnumber those in the oil and gas industry three to one, home values are higher near national wildlife refuges, and jobs in rural western counties that are a third or more protected public lands have more than tripled over last 40 years.
Jessica is the Manager of Research and Outreach for the Public Lands Project at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
- New Report: Outdoor Recreation Industry Jobs Outnumber Those In Oil And Gas Nearly Three to One
- Jobs In Rural Western Counties With More Than 30% Protected Public Lands Increased 300% Over Last 40 Years
- New Study Finds Home Values Are Higher Near National Wildlife Refuges
- Romney To Nevadans: I Don’t Know ‘What The Purpose Is’ Of Public Lands (Hint: They Pump $1 Billion Into the State Economy)
- Memo To Mitt Romney: Even Tea Partiers Know The ‘Purpose’ Of Public Lands In Colorado