Recommends funding restoration projects to create American jobs and address climate change
WASHINGTON, D.C. – National parks are local economic drivers that create jobs and support families across the United States, according to a new report by the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), the nation’s leading voice for the national parks. The report, Restore a Nation: The Economic Benefits of Restoring the Lands and Waters of our National Parks, also notes the need for new investments in restoration projects to sustain these economies, maintain healthy ecosystems, address a changing climate, and create American jobs.
“By funding restoration projects in national parks, such as replanting native grasslands and rejuvenating streams and rivers; we as a nation can restore our national park system and create more American jobs ,” said Mark Wenzler, NPCA director for clean air and climate programs.
Restoration projects are more important than ever given that drought, wildfires, and floods are on the increase; coastal wetlands are declining; and wildlife are under increasing stress as changing temperatures make their traditional homes unsustainable. This ecological challenge also threatens to become an economic challenge for countless communities, since national parks directly support $13.3 billion in private sector activity and maintain 267,000 jobs.
“Healthy ecosystems in national parks provide communities with clean drinking water and flood protection, and support revenue-generating businesses like fishing, tourism, and recreation, especially in rural areas,” said Wenzler.
Among the projects highlighted in the report are those throughout the country that demonstrate economic benefits, including:
- Restoring coastal wetlands in Connecticut was significantly correlated with an average increase in housing values of more than $11,000;
- Planting streamside forests to keep the water cool enough to support aquatic life is saving an Oregon utility company $50 million over five years;
- Implementing a comprehensive Great Lakes restoration strategy could support nearly $50 billion in economic activity in the region;
- Restoring the Elwha River in Olympic National Park is projected to generate 1,200 new jobs in Clallam County, Washington—this roughly 3 percent increase is more than the number of jobs lost in the county’s timber industry between 1987 and 1995; and
- Implementing Florida’s state climate action plan would generate 148,000 jobs over 16 years, including nearly 40,000 jobs restoring and establishing forests.
The report also includes the findings of a recent study that found conserving or restoring land instead of using it for industrial development is correlated with sustained economic growth. It also highlights that ecosystem restoration projects have shown impressive economic returns, some approaching 80 percent.
The Restore a Nation report concludes that taking action now and investing in work that helps lands and animals respond to the earth’s changing climate—work that restores our ecosystems and essential habitats—will benefit not only wildlife and our national parks, but American communities.
This week, NPCA has also joined the Outdoor Industry Association and 75 outdoor businesses in calling on Congress to protect public lands from climate change impacts and fund restoration projects to create American jobs.
Click here to view the full report, which includes examples from: California, the Great Lakes, Louisiana, Maine, Connecticut, Washington State, Colorado, and Arkansas.
About National Parks Conservation Association
Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than one million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.