Contrary To Economic Evidence, Rep. Bishop Declares Protecting National Treasures A ‘Detriment’ To Nearby Communities

By Jessica Goad, Manager of Research and Outreach, Center for American Progress Action Fund.

Representative Rob Bishop (R-UT), who is behind a recent effort to roll back 36 environmental and health laws along U.S. borders, spent part of a hearing today in the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forest and Public Lands disparaging the value of natural wonders like national monuments and wilderness. He stated:

Contrary to claims by the administration and others, the designation of national monuments and wilderness are not a boon to local economies, but rather a detriment in most scenarios.

This statement is contrary to recent research by Headwaters Economics, which studied 17 large national monuments in the West to determine their economic impact on the counties in which they were situated. In every single case, local economies adjacent or host to national monuments grew after the designations. Headwaters Economics takes care to say that “this does not demonstrate a cause-and-effect relationship,” but shows that “national monuments are consistent with economic growth in adjacent local communities” — evidence that refutes Bishop’s claim that monuments are a “detriment.”


A number of Republicans have come out in support of national monuments as valuable to their communities. For example, Scott Tipton (R-CO), recently sponsored a bill to designate a new national monument in Colorado, saying:

A national monument designation would increase awareness and interest in Chimney Rock, and create new tourism opportunities for the Four Corners area, potentially generating badly needed revenue and new jobs in a southwest Colorado region ravaged by double-digit unemployment.

The state of Utah already benefits greatly from the revenue and jobs generated around public lands by tourism and the outdoor industry. But at a recent hearing, Bishop made the statement that the federal government doesn’t “add much” to the state of Utah. A website entitled “Bishop’s Blunders” refutes that statement:

Bishop: But the bottom line is, even with the federal presence in the state of Utah you don’t add much.

Announcer: According to a 2011 report from the Department of Interior, federally-owned public lands in Utah draw in 21 million visitors every year to the state. That translates to $1.7 billion for the local economy, as well as 20,319 jobs. Bishop calls that “not much?”

Watch it (minute 0:53–1:19):

A recent report from CAP determined that the conservation economy (which includes the protection of public lands) “has enormous economic value” and creates many jobs every year. Additionally, the outdoor recreation industry is speaking about the importance of these jobs, and 28 Utah businesses sent a letter to the Utah delegation in August in order to pushback on attacks on public lands and associated jobs. They stated, “…we urge you to not give away the places where we hike, hunt, fish, and recreate and instead protect our iconic landscapes, and support the parks and recreation areas that our businesses rely on. As business people we see these proposed changes as being bad for our business and bad for tourism.”