National Wildlife Refuge System

Restoring Habitat Also Creates Jobs

Wetland Restoration
This wetland restoration project in Montana is one of many that helped generate 3,900 jobs nationwide in FY 2011.
Credit: USFWS

April 23, 2014 - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that its habitat restoration programs are extraordinary engines for the U.S. economy. The report, Restoration Returns: The Contribution of Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program and Coastal Program Projects to Local U.S. Economiessays habitat restoration programs with partners generated a total economic stimulus of $327.6 million in Fiscal Year 2011, including the creation of more than 3,900 jobs.
The “restoration economy” is a subset of green jobs that includes such industries as heavy equipment providers and operators, plant nurseries, landscape architects, and construction companies, among other firms.
Thirty-nine percent of Americans live in coastal shoreline counties. The Service’s Coastal Program works with communities and partners to undertake projects that protect and restore vital wildlife habitat. Projects include removing invasive species, replanting salt marsh and sea grasses, and installing living shorelines to prevent erosion.

Removing invasive nutria from Maryland generated $2.5 million in local spending.
Credit: Christine Eustis/USFWS

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Maryland
One key project involved removing invasive nutria, South American rodents imported for their fur in the 1940s. In 1968, there were fewer than 150 animals at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Maryland. Three decades later, the number of nutria had swelled to 50,000. Blackwater Refuge lost half its wetlands to the rodent without a predator.   
The Maryland Nutria Project aims to eradicate nutria and restore the state’s coastal marshes. The partnership includes the Service and 27 federal, state and private partners – including more than 650 landowners who have agreed to provide access to eradicate nutria on more than 100,000 acres of private land.
The Maryland Nutria Project resulted in $2,560,000 in local spending and created 55 jobs.

Black Skimmer
Black skimmers are among 90 bird species benefitting from restored salt marsh habitat at San Diego Bay Refuge, CA.
Credit: Lisa Cox/USFWS

San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge, California
Development has dramatically altered the shoreline of San Diego Bay over the past 150 years. Almost three-quarters of the bay’s salt marshes have been lost as well as 84 percent of its intertidal mudflats – all vital habitat for wildlife. The goal of the South San Diego Bay project was to reverse this trend. 
The largest of three separate projects involved restoring 223 acres of salt marsh at the Western Salt Ponds in San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge. More than 90 species of migratory and resident birds are benefiting from this project. The American Bird Conservancy has declared San Diego Bay a Globally Important Bird Area. Just days after the project was finished, tens of thousands of shorebirds starting using the new habitat – avocets, stilts, plovers, pelicans, heron and more.
In addition to the benefits for wildlife, the project created 130 jobs and The Active Times ranked San Diego’s Bayshore Bikeway as the best bike path in the nation. The South San Diego Bay Salt Ponds restoration project encompasses partnerships with 11 federal, state and local agencies, along with nonprofit organizations.
More information here.


Last updated: April 23, 2014