CROSSETT – Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge in Arkansas generated $19.6 million in economic benefit for the counties of Ashley, Bradley, Drew and Union in Fiscal Year 2011, according to a new economic analysis. The revenue boosted retail sales, taxes and job income, and came from visitor spending tied to recreation activities on the refuge.
The refuge returned nearly $39.3 million in total economic benefit, which is the total recreational expenditures plus net economic value. Economic value is the difference between the total value received from participating in a recreational activity and the total amount paid to participate in the activity.
The figures come from a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service study, called Banking on Nature, which used 92 of the more than 550 national wildlife refuges for its economic sampling.
Wildlife refuges pumped $2.4 billion into the economy and supported more than 35,000 private-sector jobs in fiscal year 2011. Refuges contributed an average $4.87 in total economic output for every $1 appropriated and produced nearly $793 million in job income for local communities. The refuges are part of the National Wildlife Refuge System, managed by the FWS.
“Our National Wildlife Refuge System is the world’s greatest network of lands dedicated to wildlife conservation but is also an important contributor to our economy, attracting more than 46 million visitors from around the world who support local restaurants, hotels, and other businesses,” said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. “Every dollar we invest in our refuge system and other public lands generates huge dividends for our country.”
The refuge offers hunting, fishing and trails for hiking and watching wildlife.
Researchers examined visitor spending in four areas − food, lodging, transportation and other expenses (such as guide fees, land-use fees and equipment rental). Local economies were defined as those within 50 miles of each of the 92 refuges studied.
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