Washington – With Congress’s fledgling “super committee”
currently considering major federal deficit reduction, a new
coalition of some 1,000 groups and businesses have joined “in
urging Congress to consider the economic impacts of the great
outdoors and historic preservation as it makes critical decisions
concerning America’s fiscal health.”
The “America’s Voice for Conservation, Recreation and Preservation”
bases much of its argument in sustained conservation funding levels
on a recent report that highlights the economic impact of outdoor
The report’s findings highlight the value of outdoor recreation
conservation, and more:
n 9.4 million American jobs;
n $1.06 trillion in total economic impact;
n $107 billion annually generated in tax revenue.
The report – “The Economics Associated with Outdoor Recreation,
Natural Resources Conservation and Historic Preservation in the
United States” – was commissioned by the National Fish and Wildlife
Foundation and was completed by Southwick Associates.
The release of the report was accompanied by a press conference in
“From an economic perspective, the bottom line is clear – America’s
natural resources are a critical part of the national economy,”
said Mark Tercek, president and CEO of The Nature Conservancy, in a
coalition press release.
Vaughn Collins, director of government affairs for the Theodore
Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, said the far-reaching coalition
would “support things that benefit conservation,” but likely
wouldn’t advocate specific programs. That said, the groups that are
part of the coalition are suggesting their membership contact
members of Congress to express specific concerns.
Collins said the collective of 1,000 groups and business are
supported by between 20 million and 30 million Americans.
A letter that highlights the economic effects of the outdoors and
conservation across the country has circulated through Congress.
Collins said it originally was sent to House Speaker John Boehner
and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, followed by a mass mailing
to all members of Congress. More recently, Democrats and
Republicans from the House and Senate who comprise the joint super
committee received another mailing.
The letter “urged Congressional leaders to sustain the federal
funds that are critical to the American way of life,” a coalition
press release said.
Coalition members, the release says, “are united in a shared
understanding that federal investments in natural resource
conservation, recreation, and historic preservation programs are
vital to the future of our great nation.”
Dale Hall, CEO of Ducks Unlimited, said conservation funding often
provides the biggest bang for the buck, in terms of federal
“This economic report highlights how cost-effective conservation
and preservation programs make a clear profit for the U.S. taxpayer
and benefit our nation’s economy,” Hall said in the release.
Collins said the Congressional super committee is expected to
produce a bill that will provide deficit reduction to the tune of
about $1.2 trillion by Nov. 23. The House and Senate must approve
the bill by the end of December. If not, across-the-board cuts for
all federal programs could be in store. Of course, even those
decisions could be subject to change.
Super committee recommendations wouldn’t be scheduled to take
effect until 2013, when a new president and new Congress could be
in place, which, Collins said, could change things.
“It’s a ‘guided mystery,’ ” he said, referring to the eventual