Land conservation supports jobs

As stay-at-home orders were issued in March and April and social distancing became the norm, people all over the United States discovered or rediscovered local hiking trails, green spaces and the calming power of nature. Parking areas at trailheads near my home in Massachusetts overflowed with cars; those areas where parking lots were closed saw vehicles squeezed all along the road.

By Heidi Peltier June 4, 2020

Nature's restorative power is particularly important at a time of rapidly growing unemployment and financial hardship. And as a country, we have important decisions to make regarding how to use national funds. Now, more than ever, it is imperative that we make budgetary decisions that not only improve quality of life and sustain the activities we care about, but also that create jobs.

Recent research of mine shows that conservation and park development have the potential to create various types of jobs throughout the country. Each $1 million spent in conservation activities supports between 17 and 31 jobs. These are jobs at various skill levels and occupations, ranging from biologists and environmental consultants, to groundskeepers and tree trimmers, food service workers, bus drivers, various park staff positions and many others.

Using public funds to conserve land and water and to develop parks, such as by fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund, about which Congress will soon be voting, can create thousands of jobs around the country, in addition to enhancing our quality of life and protecting the planet.

Land conservation is more than a "nice to have." It's a "need to have."