State Officials Issue Economic Impact Report on Ecological Restoration Projects
BOSTON – Wednesday, April 04, 2012 – Officials from the Department of Fish and Game’s (DFG) Division of Ecological Restoration (DER) today issued a report detailing the economic impact of state-supported ecological restoration projects – including dam removals and culvert replacements.
The first assessment of its kind in Massachusetts, this report shows restoration projects generate an average employment demand of 12.5 jobs and $1,750,000 in total economic output from each $1 million expended.
“We’re building a restoration economy here in Massachusetts and advancing Governor Patrick’s goal of promoting smart public investment that spur economic activity,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard K. Sullivan Jr. “Ecological restoration projects pay two times by protecting our environment and fuel the Massachusetts economy by pumping employment and construction dollars into our communities.”
While these projects are primarily initiated to restore river and wetland functions, such as improving flood protection and habitat for fish and wildlife, they also have the benefit of creating or sustaining jobs and eliminating or replacing unsafe infrastructure.
DER contracted with an independent third party, Industrial Economics, Inc., to generate estimates of the economic impact of state-sponsored and assisted restoration projects. DER provided data from four representative ecological restoration projects that were analyzed to estimate the direct, indirect, and induced effects from the dollars invested. The projects examined include the Eel River Headwaters Restoration in Plymouth, North Hoosic River Restoration in Clarksburg, Stony Brook Salt Marsh and Fish Passage Restoration in Brewster, and Broad Meadows Salt Marsh Restoration in Quincy.
DER and its partners have more than 70 ecological restoration projects in development.
The report supports similar findings by University of Massachusetts’ Political Economy Research Institute (PERI), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Restore America’s Estuaries that investments in environmental infrastructure projects generate economic output similar to other vital capital projects such as road and bridge construction, road repair, renewable energy development and replacement of water infrastructure.
DFG Commissioner Mary Griffin said she sees a promising relationship between ecological restoration projects and economic productivity – emphasizing that investment in restoration supports a number of Massachusetts industries including design, engineering, construction and non-profit science.
“These projects produce substantial recurring benefits in terms of enhanced ecosystem services such as water purification, and flood protection,” said Commissioner Griffin. “The report looks conservatively at the jobs and economic gains during the project period and not the long term ripple effect, when you add these numbers the economic gains are even more impressive.”
The report also highlights the substantial amounts of financial support the Commonwealth is able to leverage. Federal and other partners regularly contribute an average of $12 for each state dollar invested to plan and implement these projects. Due to the diversity of labor sectors that contribute to completing these projects, the ripple effects from a dollar spent on ecological restoration travel widely through the Massachusetts economy.
“The people of the Commonwealth benefit from the proactive environmental policies of the administration and these restoration projects are a perfect example of that," said Rep. Anne Gobi, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture.
“Investment in our natural infrastructure is vitally important not only for the quality of life in Massachusetts, but also because it really does create jobs,” said Director of External Affairs for The Engineering Center in Boston Abbie Goodman. “The Division of Ecological Restoration’s new report demonstrates the green economy once again showing that by doing the work – dam removal, culvert replacement, flow restoration and stream naturalization – we’re creating a better Massachusetts. And we’re using the quality engineering and construction talent we have right here.”
For more information about DER and its partner projects, visit http://www.mass.gov/dfwele/der/index.htm.
The mission of the Division of Ecological Restoration is to restore and protect the Commonwealth’s rivers, wetlands and watersheds for the benefit of people and the environment. The Division was created in 2009 with the merger of the Riverways and Wetland Restoration Programs and is coordinating 80 ecological restoration projects across the Commonwealth.
DFG is responsible for promoting the conservation and enjoyment of the Commonwealth's natural resources. DFG carries out this mission through land protection and wildlife habitat management, management of inland and marine fish and wildlife species, and ecological restoration of fresh water, salt water, and terrestrial habitats. DFG promotes enjoyment of the Massachusetts environment through outdoor skills workshops, fishing festivals and other educational programs, and by enhancing access to the Commonwealth's rivers, lakes, and coastal waters.