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The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership And The $1 Trillion Question

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October 14, 2011

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership And The $1 Trillion Question

By Hal Herring

This morning, I received a press release from the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership about a new study defining the economic benefits and effects of outdoor recreation, conservation, and historical preservation efforts in our country. It reports that “the great outdoors and historic preservation generate a conservative estimate of more than $1 trillion in total economic activity and support 9.4 million jobs each year. “

I hope people will take the time to actually read and ponder what is revealed here. So much of it, if we think about it, is common sense-- we all know (or are) someone who owns or works in an outdoor store, or as a guide or outfitter, or who has recently bought a boat or upgraded fishing tackle or guns. The money is there, it’s moving through the economy, and it is dependent on having healthy and protected lands and waters to use that tackle or shoot those guns (imagine the miniscule percentage of the economy in France, or China that is generated from hunting and fishing- then look at the US figures in the linked study).

We take it for granted that our homes don’t flood, never really looking upstream at all the wetlands that soak up those floods before they get to us, never imagining that someone might just decide to fill those “useless” swamps to build a new parking lot, and send that torrent right down on us.

Those wetlands have a value as flood control (even if the owner won’t let you hunt the ducks that use them, and even more so if they will), and so do the woods where the trail camera snapped a photo of that giant whitetail buck, or that mysterious cougar-like creature that inspired you to buy four more trail cameras. At its most basic level, it’s called ecosystem services, and it is why we have drinking water, why it does not flood us out every time it rains, why we have everything from crappie to a 20 ounce ribeye cut from a cow that grazed public land somewhere.

We have logging. We have coal mining. We have the wonderful Bakken Oil and Gas Field, we have the Barnett Shale boom, the Marcellus, the promising Haynesville. We are pumping more domestic energy than at any time I can remember in our history. Those are good, concrete sources of economic vibrancy, plenty of good jobs and more to come, lots of supply and demand in everything from trucks to work gloves.

We have these great sources of wealth and energy security, and we’ll continue to develop them. But to deny, as we see political leaders do every day, as I see reasonably intelligent people that I know very well, doing, that protecting lands, waters and habitat costs money instead of saving and producing money is simply incorrect.

I am weary of the talk of trade-offs. This is a time and place in history where in essence, we have it all. And we can keep having it all, have even more of all of it, if we know what it is worth, and demand that, as citizens, we do not allow the ignorant or the short-sighted to murder Peter on the false promise of raising the money to pay Paul. To me, that’s what this study can help us avoid. It’s non-partisan. It’s knowledge. Check it out.

Comments (8)

Top Rated
All Comments
from jakenbake wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

I hate that the fact that cold, hard logic is worthless in the sound-bite society we now live in. Regardless of how well reasoned the argument is, the arguments will be cut down and shown as "Regulations kill jobs!" vs. "Save the trees!" because that's what the public expects to see. The public, on the whole, is too lazy, too tired, or just doesn't care about listening to an entire argument. They want the bullet points. They want to be spoon-fed. And trying to understand all of the many issues that are involved, all of the moving parts, all of the implications - it's just too much effort for most folks.

That's why it's so important for all of us to undersand these issues and be able to explain them in an easy-to-swallow manner. If we can tell others about why it's important to save public lands and enforce regulations ensuring clean air and clean water, maybe we can gain some traction. I know I feel like I'm just spinning my wheels because what can one person really do, right? But if we all try to talk to the people we know and maybe get them to talk to others and so on, maybe that can make a difference... But in the end, money talks, and because the politicians know that we're just going to take whatever they give us, they can afford to ignore what the populace demands and cater to their special interest buddies. And now I'm depressed again.

+7 Good Comment? | | Report
from billyjo bondurant wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

I had heard about this program years ago when I was a teenager I am glad to see it. this cotains the true reports and facts i was aware of long ago.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from weswes088 wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

Bravo, jakenbake, bravo. But now I'm depressed as well.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from tom warner wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

Let's see,...if we "have it all" that's surely news to me. I was born in 1933 and since that time I have watched our natural world destroyed and diminished in more ways than I can count. All you say makes obvious common sense in preserving the ecological basis for all we have left. Our industries and politicians, with rare exceptions, have never given a damn for any of it. Our present bunch of raving idiots in Washington are now engaged in a huge attack on all of the environmental regulations that it has taken many years to put in place. Most everyone knows that we are in the midst of a gigantic world environmental melt-down. Hurray for the Partnership and all who have fought the wreckers of nature! However,I would not place any bets on their long-term chances. We seem doomed to simply repeat our history of stupidity over and over again. If all that has taken place in my lifetime is repeated in the next century, I cannot imagine what we will be left with. What was once called "progress" has long ago become simple destruction. Color me a pessimist.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from RealGoodMan wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

Yet, these oil and gas companies tell us that conservation is a waste and bad for the economy. That's no suprise, why should they care if the outdoors industry generates a trillion dollars for this country's economy? Their only interest is generating billions for themselves. That's it. This Drill Baby Drill mindset is so short sighted and irrational- it's almost comical. It's a quick fix that will come and go, but one has to wonder what our natural resources will look like when all is said and done. Commercial and oil & gas development isn't just a threat to hunting and fishing- it's bigger than that. It's a threat to our health and general well-being. Hate to break the news to some of you, but take a look around- clean water is becoming more scarce across the country, as is our food supply and family farms (closing daily in staggering numbers) etc. It's a trend that will surely continue and progress the more we take for granted our lands, air, soil and water. We need to look at the big picture here. I don't want America looking like some polluted wasteland like some third-world country. As populations continue to grow, we need to think long and hard about what direction we want our country to take. If only us sportsmen were as protective of our lands as we are of our firearms... On a final note, that oil and gas tycoon T Boone Pickens owns the most water in this country. As water supplies become more scarce, it'll probably end up being the new oil or gold. It's ironic- but it's also good business. He sees a bleak picture down the road as well.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from shane wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

"I am weary of the talk of trade-offs"

Me too. Why? Because the trade off is BS in the first place.

A few days worth of energy that we'll sell to China in exchange for vast chunks irreplaceable ecosystems is a really $h!tty trade-off.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from tom warner wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

RealGoodMan:"If only us sportsmen were as protective of our lands as we are of our firearms." You are so right! I wish that I had said that.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from barefootwt wrote 2 years 24 weeks ago

Some of these folks must be brush salesman. They tell you they have all the safeguards in place, and look at you crazy when your water is full of methane. Then tell you that it is safe to drink, when there are 5 dead squirrels and 20 sick rabbits in your front yard. They make me sick!

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from jakenbake wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

I hate that the fact that cold, hard logic is worthless in the sound-bite society we now live in. Regardless of how well reasoned the argument is, the arguments will be cut down and shown as "Regulations kill jobs!" vs. "Save the trees!" because that's what the public expects to see. The public, on the whole, is too lazy, too tired, or just doesn't care about listening to an entire argument. They want the bullet points. They want to be spoon-fed. And trying to understand all of the many issues that are involved, all of the moving parts, all of the implications - it's just too much effort for most folks.

That's why it's so important for all of us to undersand these issues and be able to explain them in an easy-to-swallow manner. If we can tell others about why it's important to save public lands and enforce regulations ensuring clean air and clean water, maybe we can gain some traction. I know I feel like I'm just spinning my wheels because what can one person really do, right? But if we all try to talk to the people we know and maybe get them to talk to others and so on, maybe that can make a difference... But in the end, money talks, and because the politicians know that we're just going to take whatever they give us, they can afford to ignore what the populace demands and cater to their special interest buddies. And now I'm depressed again.

+7 Good Comment? | | Report
from tom warner wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

Let's see,...if we "have it all" that's surely news to me. I was born in 1933 and since that time I have watched our natural world destroyed and diminished in more ways than I can count. All you say makes obvious common sense in preserving the ecological basis for all we have left. Our industries and politicians, with rare exceptions, have never given a damn for any of it. Our present bunch of raving idiots in Washington are now engaged in a huge attack on all of the environmental regulations that it has taken many years to put in place. Most everyone knows that we are in the midst of a gigantic world environmental melt-down. Hurray for the Partnership and all who have fought the wreckers of nature! However,I would not place any bets on their long-term chances. We seem doomed to simply repeat our history of stupidity over and over again. If all that has taken place in my lifetime is repeated in the next century, I cannot imagine what we will be left with. What was once called "progress" has long ago become simple destruction. Color me a pessimist.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from weswes088 wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

Bravo, jakenbake, bravo. But now I'm depressed as well.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from RealGoodMan wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

Yet, these oil and gas companies tell us that conservation is a waste and bad for the economy. That's no suprise, why should they care if the outdoors industry generates a trillion dollars for this country's economy? Their only interest is generating billions for themselves. That's it. This Drill Baby Drill mindset is so short sighted and irrational- it's almost comical. It's a quick fix that will come and go, but one has to wonder what our natural resources will look like when all is said and done. Commercial and oil & gas development isn't just a threat to hunting and fishing- it's bigger than that. It's a threat to our health and general well-being. Hate to break the news to some of you, but take a look around- clean water is becoming more scarce across the country, as is our food supply and family farms (closing daily in staggering numbers) etc. It's a trend that will surely continue and progress the more we take for granted our lands, air, soil and water. We need to look at the big picture here. I don't want America looking like some polluted wasteland like some third-world country. As populations continue to grow, we need to think long and hard about what direction we want our country to take. If only us sportsmen were as protective of our lands as we are of our firearms... On a final note, that oil and gas tycoon T Boone Pickens owns the most water in this country. As water supplies become more scarce, it'll probably end up being the new oil or gold. It's ironic- but it's also good business. He sees a bleak picture down the road as well.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from billyjo bondurant wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

I had heard about this program years ago when I was a teenager I am glad to see it. this cotains the true reports and facts i was aware of long ago.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from shane wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

"I am weary of the talk of trade-offs"

Me too. Why? Because the trade off is BS in the first place.

A few days worth of energy that we'll sell to China in exchange for vast chunks irreplaceable ecosystems is a really $h!tty trade-off.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from tom warner wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

RealGoodMan:"If only us sportsmen were as protective of our lands as we are of our firearms." You are so right! I wish that I had said that.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from barefootwt wrote 2 years 24 weeks ago

Some of these folks must be brush salesman. They tell you they have all the safeguards in place, and look at you crazy when your water is full of methane. Then tell you that it is safe to drink, when there are 5 dead squirrels and 20 sick rabbits in your front yard. They make me sick!

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment