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Habitat Restoration Creates Jobs, Boosts Local Economies

Watershed and fish habitat restoration in Oregon creates jobs according to a report by Ecotrust. In fact, they found that restoration projects generated $977.5 million in economic activity and as many as 6,483 jobs between 2001 and 2010 in Oregon. This confirms our own data, which showed that restoration projects create between 17-33 jobs per $1 million invested.

Compare this to traditional construction: the oil and gas sector only creates roughly 5 jobs per $1 million invested, while road infrastructure generates 7 jobs per $1 million invested. And, unlike other sectors, restoration jobs can’t be outsourced—they’re local, and they bring a lot of benefits to the local economy. The report found that an average of 90 percent of money invested in restoration stays in the state, and 80 percent stays in the county where a project is located.

Restoration projects create jobs for construction workers, landscapers, heavy equipment operators, and technical experts such as engineers and wildlife biologists. Restoration projects also create demand for local businesses, such as plant nurseries, quarries, and others.

As Craig Holmgren, Project Superintendent for our Fisher Slough marsh restoration project said, “You’re looking at 50+ guys just on my end that have had employment for the last couple years out of this job.  It’s a pretty big impact in the community.  Ninety percent of us live locally … It’s kind of fun to work close to home and to be able to do something to help the community and the fish.”

Restoration creates immediate local jobs, and also benefits the economy in the long term. Habitat improvements intended to bolster fish runs promise to increase sport and commercial fishing opportunities in the coming years.

Many of our recent projects are already seeing results. Fish are returning to the Elwha River in Washington after dam removals last year, and fish passage restoration on Bride Brook in Connecticut resulted in record herring runs this spring.

Posted August 23, 2012

Recovered ghost traps on a lobster boat.

Construction at the Fisher Slough Marsh Restoration Project.

Credit: The Nature Conservancy