In The Community

In the Community - Refuge Volunteer Staff at Creamery Picnic

The Refuge is 'in the community' on many levels. One way of measuring the Refuge "in the community" is economically. Erin Carver and James Caudill (both USFWS employees) recently published (2013) the Banking on Nature report . Their summary findings for the system of 560+ refuges: 

  • In the Community - Refuge Staff at Wildfest (Missoula) Recreational visits to national wildlife refuges generate substantial economic activity. In FY 2011, 46.5 million people visited refuges. Their spending generated $2.4 billion of sales in regional economies. As this spending flowed through the U.S. economy, over 35,000 people were employed and $792.7 million in employment income was generated.  
  • About 72 percent of total expenditures are generated by non-consumptive activities on refuges. Fishing accounted for 21 percent and hunting 7 percent. Local residents accounted for 23 percent of expenditures while visitors coming from outside the local area accounted for 77 percent.  
  • Refuge recreational spending generated about $342.9 million in tax revenue at the local, county, state and Federal level. 

In the Community-Youth Conservation Corps atop Refuge FloatObviously, the economics puts a dollar figure on broad recreational activities. Drilling down to specifics, the Refuge integrates with communities in a variety of ways. The Refuge coordinates with schools on a statewide basis the Junior Duck Stamp program which provides curriculum to "connect students with nature through the arts". Refuge Volunteer Rebecca Ames goes into Bitterroot Valley elementary school classrooms introducing children to our locally common plants and animals. Bitterroot Valley high school students are employed for the summer through the Youth Conservation Corps.

In the Community-Salish Ceremonial GroundsThe Refuge also participates in community-based special events, such as: Creamery Picnic, Scarecrow Festival, Bitterroot Birding and Nature Festival and Welcome Back Waterfowl Day. Montana Department of Tourism, Stevensville Main Street and Stevensville Civic club meetings have been attended by staff. Staff also do wildlife presentations to a spectrum of other civic organizations. There is coordination with Ravalli County Weed District and the Police Departments for the County and Stevensville. The culture and history of the Bitterroot Valley, e.g. the Salish, Corps of Discovery, Nez Perce, Plummer gang, founding of Stevensville, obviously encompasses the Refuge and we also share in this heritage.