The Big Dry Arm Spring Storm in the Great Basin Red Cliffs Desert Tortoise Reserve March Morning on the Platte River After a Spring Storm in the Great Basin Hunting Upland Birds at Kingsbury Lake Waterfowl Production Area Sandhill Migration on the Platte River Badlands Sunrise The Green River at Ouray NWR North Park Lupines Moab Sunset

About Banking on Nature

 

A woman aims a camera directly into the lens of the camera taking her photo. She is standing in front of a picturesque lake, backdropped by snow-covered mountains. The woman is wearing a brown, broad-brimmed, high-crowned ranger hat bearing the words US Fish and Wildlife.The image is overlaid by the words Banking on Nature.
Information icon Jennifer Strickland, USFWS Pubic Affairs Officer. Photo by Angela Burgess, USFWS. Source

 

Banking On Nature: The Economic Contributions of National Wildlife Refuge Recreational Visitation to Local Communities

Because natural sites are drawing increasingly more visitors, there has been a growing interest in quantifying their contribution. The varied and abundant network of the National Wildlife Refuge System lands and waters generates many individual and societal benefits. Banking on Nature focuses on economic contributions associated with recreational visitation.

Banking on Nature reports are issued every few years. The most recent report, issued in 2019, analyzed data from fiscal year 2017 (FY2017). Reports were also released for FY2011 (released in 2013), FY2006 (released in 2007), and FY2004 (released in 2005). This page provides a general overview of key information from each report, as well as an overview of the economic impact of Mountain-Prairie region. You can also visit the FWS.gov Banking on Nature Homepage to find out more about each report.


2017 Banking on Nature Report »

Click here to open the 2017 Banking on Nature report (PDF)

A man sits on a small folding lawn chair amidst bright green shrubbery and grasses. The man has a book in his lap and appears to be drawing or painting the scenery.

Artist at Two Ponds National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Seth Beres, USFWS. View Full Screen.

In 2017, 53.6 million people visited national refuges, generating $3.2 billion of sales in local economies. As this spending flowed through the economy, over 41,000 people were employed and $1.1 billion in employment income was generated. This information can inform refuge management and facilitate interaction between refuges, local communities, and State tourism.

The 2017 Banking on Nature report analyzes the recreational visitation to 162 national wildlife refuges around the country to estimate the economic role that national wildlife refuge visitors play in local economies. Some of the sampled refuges are in urban areas surrounded by large metropolitan areas, and others are located in remote areas.

Individual economic contribution reports are available for the 162 sampled national wildlife refuges. Click here to find the individual refuge reports. Additionally, an interactive tool providing a snapshot of individual refuge results is available for users to explore recreational visitor spending, jobs, employment income, and local economic output. Click here to acccess the interactive tool.

Sampling all refuges with recreation visits would be prohibitively expensive. As an alternative, the results from 162 case studies can be treated as data points; this report utilizes the individual refuge results to estimate the local economic contributions of the entire Refuge System. Data from sampled refuges was analyzed, averaged, and applied to un-sampled refuges to estimate the economic contribution of National Wildlife Refuges nationwide. This technique produces approximate estimates of economic output, employment income, and jobs created by all recreational visitor spending at each refuge.


Banking on Nature in the Mountain-Prairie Region: 2017

The 2017 Banking on Nature report sampled fourteen refuges in the Mountain-Prairie region. Refuges in the Mountain-Prairie region brought in 3,323,033 visitors in FY17, generating $347,800,000 of economic output and $115,700,100 in employment income with 4,452 jobs. The following table provides a snapshot of the economic contributions for individual refuges, with links to the individual refuge reports.

Colorado


Kansas


Montana


Nebraska


North Dakota


South Dakota


Utah

 

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2011 Banking on Nature Report »

A young man standing inside a dark barn feeds a white horse that is sticking its head through a barn window.

A student crew member takes a break to pet and feed the horses at the National Bison Range. Photo copyright: Steve Wagner. View Full Screen.

Click here to open the 2011 Banking on Nature report (PDF)

In 2011, 46.5 million people visited national refuges, generating $2.4 billion of sales in local economies. As this spending flowed through the economy, over 35,000 people were employed and $792.7 million in employment income was generated. This information can inform refuge management and facilitate interaction between refuges, local communities, and State tourism.

This study analyzes the visitation records of 92 sample refuges around the country to estimate the economic role that refuge visitors play in regional economies. The sample refuges are also used to estimate the impact of refuge visitors on regional economies nationwide. Readers interested in a particular refuge not among the samples should be able to find one of these 92 case studies that is comparable.

Each of the 92 sampled refuges are described in this report, each with a dedicated section to highlight the activities enjoyed at each one, analyze the regional economic factors involved, and put the results of this analysis into perspective. The report’s final section, titled National View, describes how the results for a subset of the sample refuges may be used to estimate nationwide effects from refuge visitation and discusses the nationwide estimates. Technical appendices are available that provide background detail on the economic models used for the refuge estimates and the nationwide aggregation.


Banking on Nature in the Mountain-Prairie Region: 2011

The 2011 Banking on Nature report sampled eleven refuges in the Mountain-Prairie region. Refuges in the Mountain-Prairie region brought in 2,334,982 visitors in FY11, generating $211,013,000 of economic output and $69,806,000 in employment income with 3,227 jobs. The following table provides a snapshot of the economic contributions for individual refuges. More information about each sampled refuge can be found inside the 2011 Banking on Nature report; in the refuge information below, hyperlinks have been added that will take you directly to the specific page for that refuge in the report.

Colorado

    Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge


Kansas


Montana


Nebraska

    Valentine National Wildlife Refuge


North Dakota


South Dakota

    Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge

    Waubay National Wildlife Refuge


Utah

 

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2006 Banking on Nature Report »

Two young girls pose, smiling at the camera in front of a small lake or pond. The girl on the left poses with their shotgun and the girl on the right poses with their catch, a brown duck.

Successful youth waterfowl hunters at Huron Wetland Management District. Photo by Chuck Pyle, USFWS. View Full Screen.

Click here to open the 2006 Banking on Nature report (PDF)

In 2006, 34.8 million people visited national refuges, generating $1.7 billion of sales in local economies. As this spending flowed through the economy, over 27,000 people were employed and $542.8 million in employment income was generated. This information can inform refuge management and facilitate interaction between refuges, local communities, and State tourism.

This study analyzes the visitation records of 80 sample refuges around the country to estimate the economic role that refuge visitors play in regional economies. The sample refuges are also used to estimate the impact of refuge visitors on regional economies nationwide. Readers interested in a particular refuge not among the samples should be able to find one of these 80 case studies that is comparable.

Each of the 80 sampled refuges are described in this report, each with a dedicated section to highlight the activities enjoyed at each one, analyze the regional economic factors involved, and put the results of this analysis into perspective. The report’s final section, titled National View, describes how the results for a subset of the sample refuges may be used to estimate nationwide effects from refuge visitation and discusses the nationwide estimates. Technical appendices are available that provide background details on the models used.


Banking on Nature in the Mountain-Prairie Region: 2006

The 2006 Banking on Nature report sampled nine refuges in the Mountain-Prairie region. Refuges in the Mountain-Prairie region brought in 2,187,210 visitors in FY06, generating $82,442,000 of economic output and $26,187,000 in employment income with 1,387 jobs. The following table provides a snapshot of the economic contributions for individual refuges. More information about each sampled refuge can be found inside the 2006 Banking on Nature report; in the refuge information below, hyperlinks have been added that will take you directly to the specific page for that refuge in the report.

Colorado


Kansas

    Quivira National Wildlife Refuge


Montana


Nebraska


South Dakota


Utah

 

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2004 Banking on Nature Report »

A young boy looks through a pair of binoculars on a tripod on a cool, misty morning, next to a fog-covered lake and amongst green trees and grasses.

A young birder at Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by USFWS.
View Full Screen
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Click here to open the 2004 Banking on Nature report (PDF)

In 2004, 36.7 million people visited national refuges, generating $1.37 billion of sales in local economies. As this spending flowed through the economy, over 24,000 people were employed and $453.9 million in employment income was generated. This information can inform refuge management and facilitate interaction between refuges, local communities, and State tourism.

The economic analysis of the 93 sample refuges facilitates a look at the big picture: an estimate of the national impact of wildlife refuges on their regional economies. Regression analysis is used to intepret the data from these 93 refuges on a national scale.

Each of the 93 sampled refuges are described in this report, each with a dedicated section to highlight the activities enjoyed at each one, analyze the regional economic factors involved, and put the results of this analysis into perspective. The National View section concludes by examining how the findings for the 93 sample refuges apply across the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service geographical regions (Alaska, Hawaii and refuges with less than 1,500 visitors are excluded from the national estimate).


Banking on Nature in the Mountain-Prairie Region: 2004

The 2004 Banking on Nature report sampled eight refuges in the Mountain-Prairie region. Refuges in the Mountain-Prairie region brought in 2,248,679 visitors in FY11, generating $64,975,000 of economic output and $16,769,000 in employment income with 1,341 jobs. The following table provides a snapshot of the economic contributions for individual refuges, with links to the individual refuge reports.

Montana


Nebraska


North Dakota

    Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge

    Audubon National Wildlife Refuge


South Dakota

    Lacreek National Wildlife Refuge

 

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The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with Others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American People.
Last modified: August 28, 2019
All Images Credit to and Courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Unless Specified Otherwise.
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