This week we celebrate the 42nd Earth Day, a tradition begun by Wisconsin Senator, Gaylord Nelson. Over the last four decades, this movement has helped us make tremendous strides in caring for the environment. As Wisconsinites, we are fortunate to have abundant natural resources in our own backyard. We must do our part to ensure they are taken care of for future generations.
That means enacting smart conservation practices to help our farmers be good stewards of the land. Providing our family farmers the resources to make it easier to support our natural resources can go a long way toward protecting our many rivers and streams right here in western Wisconsin. Local programs, including land retirement and easement programs, help farmers to take highly eroded lands out of production, so we can better preserve these areas. The upcoming farm bill will provide us an important opportunity to bolster conservation funding. I will do everything I can to support these programs but also simplify them so that they work for our family farmers.
We can also support our national parks and wildlife refuges, which protect lands, plants and wildlife. Western Wisconsin is home to three national wildlife refuges, including the Upper Mississippi River National Fish and Wildlife Refuge which is visited by 4 million people each year. Yet the National Wildlife Refuge System and the National Parks are continually underfunded. This is a shame because the parks have proven to be sound investments for communities, jobs, and future generations. Research shows that every dollar invested in National Parks generates at least four dollars in direct economic impact--supporting approximately $13 billion of local private-sector economic activity and nearly 270,000 private sector jobs. It's our job to preserve these places for future generations. I am determined to use my leadership roles on both the Congressional Wildlife Refuge Caucus and on the National Parks Caucus to push for continued protection of our National Parks and Wildlife Refuges.
Lastly, by encouraging appreciation of the great outdoors, we can foster a generation that will care for our natural resources long into the future. Getting families outside, enjoying all that nature has to offer -- hunting, fishing, biking, hiking and camping, will surely go a long way toward fostering future conservationists. These kids will grow up to support policies that protect the environment and participate in and give back through initiatives like the Electronic Duck Stamp, in which 98 percent of the purchase goes toward conservation funding.
Senator Nelson's legacy is alive and well today, especially here at home in Wisconsin. I will continue to carry it forward in Congress through my work to strengthen conservation programs and funding, as I hope that people in western Wisconsin and across the country will remember it in the work they do and the lives they lead.