The Banking On Nature report released this week by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shows that national wildlife refuges are a good investment for American taxpayers and a boost to local economies. It found that...
...for every $1 Congress provides in funding to run the National Wildlife Refuge System, almost $5 on average is returned to local communities.
Anahuac NWR was one of 92 refuges selected for the report that shows a remarkable trend of increased visitation to refuges and increased economic contribution to local communities. Not only is it great that visitation has increased, but the increase occurred during the height of the worst economic recession since the Great Depression. From 2006 to 2011, refuge visitation across the country increased by 30 percent and overall economic output from refuges increased by 22 percent, resulting in an annual $2.4 billion returned to local economies every year.
- Generated over $3.5 million in sales and economic output to Chambers, Harris, and Jefferson counties
- Welcomed over 91,000 visitors to the refuge
- Returned $4.50 to the local economy for every $1.00 Congress provided in funding
- Produced $965,000 in job income for the local community
- Generated $400,000 in local, county, state, and federal tax revenue
- Brought in over 12,000 non-Texas residents that provided over $800,000 in economic benefits
- Provided a combined economic benefit that is almost five times the amount appropriated by Congress
Anahuac NWR is a just a portion of the economic benefits created by the National Wildlife Refuge System. In addition to the $2.4 billion the refuge system generates, refuges brought in over 46 million visitors in 2011, a 30% increase from 2006. They create 35,000 jobs annually and produce nearly $800 million in job income for local communities.
FWS anticipates the upward trend in refuge visits and local economic stimulus will continue. However, the National Wildlife Refuge Association and over 230 refuge Friends groups are concerned that with recent budget cuts and more on the horizon, visitation will decrease as refuges close to visitors due to lack of staff and resources.
450 staff positions across the country are at risk to be cut by the end of next year with further budget reductions. Hunting and wildlife watching programs could end and volunteer efforts will be limited due to lack of staff to provide oversight. Nearly 20 refuges may lose their staff completely.
Anahuac NWR is a substantial economic driver that is at risk of losing it capability to provide benefits to the area. This is where being a Friends member makes a difference. We are a voice for the refuges and you are needed to make us heard. The Visitor Center, the almost completed Visitor Information Station, hunting, fishing, volunteer work days, and events like Fishing Day and the upcoming Expo are all at risk for being eliminated in the future with further budget cuts. Contact your representatives and share this report with them.
Information above gathered from the Banking on Nature report and the National Wildlife Refuge Association