Report: Activities on public lands contribution billions to Colorado economy

David Bernhardt

Energy development, recreation and other activities on public lands in Colorado managed by the Department of Interior accounted for a total of $12.3 billion in economic contributions during the 2018 fiscal year.

Those activities also supported nearly 66,000 jobs, according to the latest economic report from the federal agency.

The numbers from Colorado were part of $315 billion in contributions and 1.8 million jobs nationwide.

“The Department of the Interior is entrusted with managing a wide variety of activities on public lands that support nearly 2 million jobs and generate $315 billion
in economic impact, benefiting local and state economies,” said Interior Secretary David Bernhardt. “Today’s report highlights the significant contributions our public lands make in our economy.”

Colorado ranked fourth among states with the largest contributions to the national totals.

In Colorado, oil, natural gas, coal and other minerals extract on public lands managed by the Department of Interior accounted for 38,800 jobs, $6.1 billion in value added and $9 billion in economic output. That was more than half the jobs and nearly two-thirds of the total output for the state.

Recreation — including visits to national parks, monuments and wildlife refuges — accounted for 17,400 jobs, $1.2 billion in added value and $2.1 billion in economic output.

The Department of Interior payroll in Colorado accounted for 4,950 jobs, $435 million in value added and $743 million in economic output.

Major grants and payments accounted for 2,620 jobs, $221 million in value added and $322 million in economic output.

Livestock grazing and timber production accounted for 2,140 jobs, $5.3 million in value added and $162 million in economic output.

Nationwide, activities on public lands and waters managed by the Department of Interior during the 2018 fiscal year accounted for a 24 percent increase in economic output and 12.5 percent increase in jobs supported over the 2016 fiscal year.

Nationwide, 4.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, 923 million barrels of crude oil and 322 million tons of coal were extracted from public lands and waters managed by the Department of Interior during the 2018 fiscal year. That production supported an estimated 643,000 jobs and $151 billion in economic output. Energy and mineral extraction combined accounted for 704,000 jobs and $167 billion in economic output.

A total of 486 million recreational visits to national parks, monuments and wildlife refuges as well as other public lands managed by the Department of Interior were reported. Those visits supported an estimated 452,000 jobs and $58 billion in economic output. Recreational visits during the 2018 fiscal year increased more than 2.7 percent over 2016. 

Major grants and payments accounted for 97,600 jobs and $12.8 billion in economic output.

The Department of Interior payroll accounted for 63,600 jobs and $10.6 billion in economic output.

Livestock grazing and timber production accounted for 44,800 jobs and $3.3 billion in economic output.

In addition to Colorado, other states with the largest contributions from activities on lands managed by the Department of Interior included Texas, Wyoming, New Mexico, California and Louisiana.

Activities in Texas accounted for 113,000 jobs and $24 billion in economic output. In Wyoming, activities supported 88,000 jobs and contributed $21 billion.