Report: Nature conservation is a ‘huge economic driver’

11-18-2011 // Kathleen Ryan
This excerpt is from the Durango Herald.

Preserve the environment – help the economy. That’s the message from a new report from the National Wildlife Federation.

The report found that historic preservation and the great outdoors combine to provide 9.4 million jobs in the U.S. each year, contributing $1 trillion to the economy.

Advocates fear discretionary funding for environmental protection and historical conservation could be at risk from the so-called super committee looking to pare $1.2 trillion from the federal budget. The wildlife federation’s report recommends some of that savings come from eliminating $100 billion in tax credits to the energy industry.

The federation’s Rocky Mountain regional outreach coordinator, David Ellenberger, says more than 2 million Coloradans take part in outdoor recreation annually, contributing $3 billion to state coffers.

“It’s really staggering to know how much people support these places. It’s really about the lifestyle out here. People love to go to these places, and when they do, it’s a huge economic driver,” he said.

Ellenberger says federal investments in environmental protection and historical conservation offer a big bang for the buck – and the report found they account for less than 1 percent of the total federal discretionary budget.

“If those things fall prey to the budget ax through the super committee, they’re really hamstringing themselves in the long run and really endangering our future,” he said.

The report says Congress has already cut the budgets for the programs by 30 percent in previous years.

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