Wildlife Refuges Generate More Than $2 Billion A Year, Report Finds

The San Juan Islands

Bird watching, hunting or just picnicking. Whatever the reason, visits to the nation’s 561 wildlife refuges are big business.

A new report says visitors to federal wildlife refuges generate more than $2 billion a year in economic activity, helping to employ more than 35,000 people and produce about $343 million in local, state and federal taxes.

Recreational activities such as birding, hiking and picnicking account for nearly 75 percent of total expenditures at wildlife refuges across the country, the report says, while fishing and hunting account for about 28 percent of expenditures.

The report by the Fish and Wildlife Service says wildlife refuges drew 46.5 million visits in 2011, with three of every four visitors coming from outside the local area. Visitors generated $2.4 billion of economic activity, making refuges a major contributor to ecotourism.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell was expected to release the report Tuesday during a visit to a wildlife refuge in Minnesota. The Associated Press obtained a copy in advance.

Jewell said in a statement that the U.S. wildlife refuge system is not only “the world’s greatest network of lands dedicated to wildlife conservation, but it is also a powerful economic engine for local communities across the country.” Refuge visitors come from around the world and support hundreds of local restaurants, hotels and other businesses, she said.

Read the full story here.

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About jensera

Jennifer Harrington is a Toronto-based illustrator, writer and graphic designer. She illustrated the best-selling children’s book series 'A Moose in a Maple Tree,' which includes the titles 'A Moose in a Maple Tree,' 'The Night Before a Canadian Christmas' and 'Canadian Jingle Bells.' She is also the owner of JSH Graphics, a boutique graphic design agency that specializes in print and web advertising. With her latest project, Eco Books 4 Kids, Jennifer has partnered with illustrator Michael Arnott to create a series of ecologically-themed ebooks for children. Her next book, 'Spirit Bear,' is due for release in the Summer of 2013. Jennifer offers two different school presentations for her 'Moose in a Maple Tree' collection, an illustration demonstration and a Christmas concert series, which can be booked at www.amooseinamapletree.com. She will be taking bookings for school readings of 'Spirit Bear' beginning in October 2013.

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