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National Forests Support Recreation Economy

By: 
Frank Sturges
Every year, over 160 million visitors head to our National Forests and Grasslands. Outdoor recreation enthusiasts contribute more to the economy than anything else the U.S. Forest Service does—more even than timber, grazing, and mineral development combined.
 
Tapping our public lands for economic value should emphasize the benefits of the recreation economy rather than shortsighted timber harvest expansions that can harm our landscapes.
 
Visitors come to National Forests to hunt and fish, bike and hike, view wildlife, and paddle some of our most incredible rivers. Some head outdoors simply to de-stress and relax. While they’re doing that, though, they are making jobs and providing an economic boost.
 
According to a draft report by the U.S. Forest Service, recreation on National Forests contributes $13.6 billion to the country’s GDP each year and supports 205,000 jobs. Those numbers far outpace the forest products industry, which generate $2.7 billion and support 42,000 jobs from the National Forest System, or energy and mineral production at $8 billion and 56,000 jobs. 
 
These contributions are part of the even larger outdoor recreation economy through buying gear, maps, and items in gateway communities.
  • The outdoor recreation economy is $646 billion annually.
  • This sector grew by 5% annually between 2005 and 2011 — through an economic recession.
  • Counties with over 30% protected public land saw a 345% job growth between 1970 and 2010, compared to 83% growth over the same time for counties with no public land.

Read the full blog on Wildlife Promise