Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today underscored the importance of investing in parks, refuges, and other public lands to promote economic growth and create jobs during a meeting with conservation and outdoor recreation leaders at an Eastern Mountain Sports store.
Salazar also toured Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge and met with youth volunteers to highlight the vital role conservation partners and volunteers play in the protection and restoration of our national wildlife refuges.
"Our nation's investment in conservation of our land, water, and wildlife and in providing outdoor recreational opportunities for the public is an investment in economic growth and jobs for local communities," Salazar said. "When you consider that one out of 20 jobs in America is associated with recreation, this is a time when we should be continuing to expand opportunities for people to hike, hunt, fish, and connect with the natural world."
"Access to wild places for human powered recreation is good for our bodies, good for our souls and good for the U.S. economy", said Will Manzer, CEO of Eastern Mountain Sports and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Outdoor Industry Association. "We're proud to play a small part in the growth of the outdoor industry and we're committed to doing everything we can to see that growth continue."
"Protecting New Hampshire's natural lands and habitats is critical not just for the sake of our state's environment, but for the sake of our state's economy as well," said U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). "As a destination for tourists and outdoor sports enthusiasts from around the country, New Hampshire's parks and refuges provide a significant boost to our state's economic growth, and it's vital that we continue to engage in conservation efforts to protect them through public-private partnerships."
Salazar noted that more than 12 million Americans hunt, more than 30 million fish, and three out of four engage in some kind of healthy outdoor activity. This contributes an estimated $730 billion to the U.S. economy each year.
According to Outdoor Recreation Industry, outdoor recreation supports 53,000 jobs in New Hampshire, generates $261 million in annual sales tax revenue, and produces nearly $4 billion in retail sales and services in the state.
As the manager of one out of every five acres of the United States, the Department of the Interior supports $363 billion and 2.2 million jobs annually, he said. Recreation in national parks, refuges, and other public lands alone led to nearly $55 billion in economic contribution and 440,000 jobs in 2009.
Salazar cited the importance of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors initiative to establish a conservation ethic for the 21st century and reconnect Americans, especially young people, to the natural world.
He urged strong support for the Land and Water Conservation Act, the landmark program that funnels revenues from oil and gas development to support acquisition of land and waters for conservation and recreation. Each dollar from the fund generates $4 in economic activity.
At Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Salazar toured a wheelchair-accessible trail and met with the team of Youth Conservation Corps volunteers who built the trail. He noted that the refuge has no on-site staff and depends extensively on volunteers who assist with maintenance, invasive species management activities, and hosting visitors.
"Our country could not have the world's greatest system of wildlife refuges if it were not for the partnership and volunteerism of the American people," Salazar said. "More than 200 Friends groups support our refuges and more than 43,000 volunteers donate more than 1.6 million hours of their time and talent -- the equivalent of 775 full-time staff members."