A new study provides a revealing look at America‘s economic stake in conservation, totaling the total public and private investments in fish, wildlife and natural resources conservation at $38.8 billion per year – monies that, once spent, circulate through the economy and stimulate an impressive $93.2 billion in economic activity.
“The Conservation Economy in America,” commissioned by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and conducted by Southwick Associates, reports the economic impacts of direct investments into conservation: the jobs, tax revenues and other dividends produced by state, federal and private conservation funding.
The study’s implications regarding the role of natural resource conservation in the broader U.S. economy are considerable. For example, Outdoor Industry Association, the trade association for companies in the outdoor recreation business, has commissioned a number of groundbreaking studies that examine consumer spending in the pursuit of outdoor recreation activities. When these new conservation-focused figures are combined with OIA data, as well as with similar data for historic preservation, the relationship is clear: Our $38.8 billion investment in conservation forms the underpinnings of an economic boon for the US through subsequent spending related to outdoor recreation and historic preservation, which are largely dependent on sound natural resources stewardship.
The study has commanded the attention of America‘s Voice for Conservation, Recreation and Preservation, a coalition of more than 1,200 organizations representing tens of millions of citizens with diverse political backgrounds who have united in support of conservation, recreation and historic preservation programs as a way to create jobs and improve the economy. The AVCRP coalition drew data from the new study and combined existing information to showcase some noteworthy findings:
♦ $1.7 trillion = total economic impact attributed to natural resource conservation, outdoor recreation and historic preservation in the United States, $1.6 trillion of which is derived from consumer dollars spent on outdoor recreation activities as it circulates through the economy as quantified by OIA. These rounds of spending also create additional impacts:
♦ $211 billion = federal, state and local tax revenue generated annually from this sustainable economy;
♦ 12.8 million = number of jobs supported by these three sectors;
♦ $877 billion = combined contribution to the United State Gross Domestic Product from these three sectors; and,
♦ $33.3 billion = total annual federal spending on natural resource conservation, outdoor recreation and historic preservation that helps generate this $1.7 trillion economy.
“Conservation-focused investments impact our nation’s economy in ways that cannot be ignored,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “If the government wishes to prioritize spending on areas that provide substantial return on investment, conservation, outdoor recreation and historic preservation should be at the top of their lists.”
“Conservation has always been a strong economic driver, and this new data reinforces that fact,” said Ducks Unlimited CEO Dale Hall. “When Americans pursue their favorite outdoor pastimes each year, they support wildlife conservation but also are strengthening our economy to a much greater degree than they may realize. Investing in conservation is a great deal for the American taxpayer.”
“The benefits of wild places in America are clear from both the economic and environmental perspective,” said The Wilderness Society Counselor and AVCRP co-chair Bill Meadows. “Federal investments made in conservation are returned to all Americans, supporting millions of jobs, improving our infrastructure, encouraging economic investment in local communities, and keeping our air breathable, our water clean and our wildlife and outdoor spaces protected – all of which make our nation unique and prosperous.”
“Investments in nature produce a great return, and the bottom line is clear – America‘s natural resources are a critical part of our national economy,” said Mark R. Tercek, president and CEO of The Nature Conservancy. “Our environmental health is directly related to our economic well-being, among other benefits. As a result, even in this time of budget austerity, the federal government can and should address the federal deficit while still investing in critical conservation programs.”
“This feels great,” said Maldonado, who is a junior majoring in Management and fishing in his second career FLW College Fishing event. “This is my first year fishing for the KansasState team. I transferred here because I knew that Nathan was coming here and we wanted to fish together for the Wildcats.
“We’ve grown up together and been fishing with each other since we were five or six years old,” Maldonado continued. “Not many people can say that they’ve been fishing with the same guy for that long. This was pretty special.”
The Kansas State Wildcat team used their experience and the strong Tennessee River current to their advantage. They targeted boulders and breaks in the current where the fish were waiting to ambush the bait.
“We were fishing community holes,” Maldonado continued. “Downstream from the dam to Seven-MileIsland. We would locate the big boulders on the shore, and that told us that there were more close by. We fished slow and worked our baits differently, and I think that was the key for us.”
Kozlowski, a junior majoring in Finance, estimated that they caught 30 to 40 fish throughout the day, but only 10 keepers. He said that they caught fish on multiple presentations, including a Zara Spook, a buzzbait, 5-inch swimbaits and black and blue-colored Jewel Baits jigs.
“It really turned on for us between 9 and 10 a.m.,” Kozlowski said. “We were just popping our jigs off of the rocks and fishing them differently than everyone else.”
The duo weighed in a mixed bag of bass of three smallmouth, one spotted bass and one largemouth. Maldonado gave a large amount of credit to his partner Kozlowski, who was able to pre-fish PickwickLake last weekend.
“It was pretty cool weighing in a stringer with three different species,” Maldonado said. “Nathan was able to come down here last weekend and get some practice time in, and he caught 17 or 18 pounds. We felt pretty good confident coming in, and it feels great to get the victory.”
The top 15 teams that advanced to the Central Conference Invitational tournament are:
1st: KansasStateUniversity – Nathan Kozlowski and Lance Maldonado, both of Junction City, Kan. (five bass, 17-8, $2,000)
2nd: Murray State University – Vincent Campisano, Louisville, Ky., and Cody Santel, Petersburg, Ill. (five bass, 16-14, $1,000)
3rd: GeorgetownCollege – John Hunter, Shelbyville, Ky., and Vincent Timperio, Corbin, Ky. (five bass,16-2, $500)
4th: Eastern Kentucky University – Kyle Raymer, Brandenburg, Ky., and John Smith, Harlan, Ky. (five bass, 15-12, $500)
5th: GeorgetownCollege – Nick Huff and Mike Huff, both of Georgetown, Ky. (five bass, 14-14, $500)
6th: University of Iowa – Keaton Williams, Fort Dodge, Iowa, and John Mercer, Burlington, Iowa (five bass, 14-1)
7th: University of Evansville – Nick Uebelhor and Eric Kieffner, both of Jasper, Ind. (five bass, 13-5)
8th: WesternKentuckyUniversity – Ryan Coleman, Utica, Ky., and Justin Hopkins, Lewisburg, Ky. (five bass, 13-4)
9th: IndianaStateUniversity – Steve Judson, Terre Haute, Ind., and Zac Niehaus, Brazil, Ind. (four bass, 13-0)
10th: University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point – Cody Hahner, Wausau, Wis., and Steve Maliborski, Milwaukee, Wis. (five bass, 12-6)
11th: WesternKentuckyUniversity – Stephen Compton, Lewisport, Ky., and Jacob Hopkins, Lewisburg, Ky. (five bass, 12-1)
12th: Murray State University – Ian Heskett, Murray, Ky., and Shelby Vandergraff, Monon, Ind. (five bass, 11-4)
13th: University of Nebraska-Omaha – Brad Koll, Omaha, Neb., and Joseph Pfeifer, Columbus, Neb. (three bass, 11-2)
14th: Eastern Kentucky University – Travis Spivey, Trenton, Ohio, and Matt Salmons, Bronston, Ky. (four bass, 10-5)
15th: Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville – Brad Lemasters, Springfield, Ill., and Zach Hartnagel, Edwardsville, Ill. (three bass, 8-6)
FLW College Fishing teams compete in four qualifying events in one of five conferences – Central, Northern, Southern, Southeastern and Western. The top fifteen teams from each regular-season tournament will qualify for one of five conference invitational tournaments. The top ten teams from each conference invitational tournament will advance to the 2014 FLW College Fishing National Championship.
College Fishing is free to enter and FLW Outdoors provides boats and drivers for each competing team along with travel allowances. All participants must be registered, full-time undergraduate students at a four-year college or university and members of a fishing club recognized by their college or university.
The next FLW College Central Conference qualifying tournament is scheduled for June 15 on KentuckyLake in Benton, Ky.