New Report: Interior Activities Contributed $385 Billion to Economy, Supported Over 2 Million Jobs in FY 2011

Economic Engines for Local Communities Include Energy Development and Outdoor Recreation

Last edited 09/05/2019

WASHINGTON -- From facilitating energy development to managing America's public lands for tourism and outdoor recreation to assisting Indian tribes with education and economic growth, the activities of the Department of the Interior contributed $385 billion to the U.S. economy and supported more than 2 million jobs in 2011, according to a new report released today.

“The Interior Department has a uniquely diverse mission that benefits the American people by promoting tourism, outdoor recreation, energy development and other economic activities that fuel local economies,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. “This report underscores that there are real, lasting impacts on communities and small businesses across the country where Interior is helping to strengthen economies and support families.”

The report, The Department of the Interior's Economic Contributions, highlights the impacts of the Department's broad mission, including land and water management; energy and mineral development on public lands; encouraging tourism and outdoor recreation at national parks, monuments and refuges; wildlife conservation, hunting and fishing; support for American Indian tribal communities and Insular Areas; and scientific research and innovation.

Prepared by Interior's Office of Policy Analysis, today's report underscores the findings of other studies on the economic impacts of Interior Department lands and programs. For example, an earlier study found that recreation in national parks, refuges, and other public lands alone led to nearly $47 billion in economic contribution and 388,000 jobs in 2010.

Another report recently released by the Outdoor Industry Association showed that 140 million Americans spent $646 billion on hunting, fishing, hiking, and other outdoor recreation on public and private lands, including on the 500 million acres of public lands managed by Interior agencies.

“Under President Obama's America's Great Outdoors initiative, we are seeking to connect Americans, especially young Americans, to nature by providing more outdoor recreation opportunities. The President has also launched a major initiative to work with states and communities across the country to promote domestic and international tourism – America's #1 export – at places such as national parks and national wildlife refuges,” said Salazar. “President Obama's focus on expanding responsible domestic energy development is working alongside our 21st century conservation, travel and tourism agendas to reinvigorate local communities – particularly in rural America.”

The major highlights of the Department of the Interior's Economic Contributions report include:

  • The 435 million recreational visits to Interior-managed lands in 2011 supported about 403,000 jobs nationwide and contributed nearly $48.7 billion in economic activity.

  • Many jobs associated with recreation on Interior lands are located in rural communities, including 18,000 jobs in Utah, 16,000 jobs in Wyoming, 14,000 jobs in Arizona and 10,000 jobs in Colorado.

  • Energy development and mining on Interior-managed lands and offshore areas supported about 1.5 million jobs and $275 billion in economic activity. Most of these jobs are in Texas, Wyoming, Louisiana, New Mexico, California, and Florida.

  • Interior provides services to 1.7 million American Indians and Alaska Natives from 566 federally recognized tribes. Activities on tribal lands contributed around $12 billion in economic output and supported nearly 126,000 jobs. Support for tribal governments through loan guarantees and other aid contributed an additional $1.2 billion in economic output and about 9,500 jobs.

  • Interior's water supply, forage and timber activities, primarily on public lands in the West, supported about 290,000 jobs and $41 billion in economic activity.

  • Investments in construction and maintenance totaled approximately $2.6 billion, which contributed about $7.2 billion in economic activity and supported almost 49,000 jobs.

  • Interior administers a variety of grants and payments programs. These programs support activities such as reclamation of abandoned mine lands, historic preservation, conservation activities, and tribal governments. Grants and payments totaling $4.2 billion in 2011 contributed about $10 billion worth of economic activity and supported about 84,000 jobs.

The 225-page report is available HERE.


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