Report: Interior activities boost economy

Sally Jewell

Energy development, recreation and other activities on public lands managed by the Department of Interior contributed more than $10 billion to the Colorado economy and supported more than 60,000 jobs during the 2012 fiscal year, according to the latest results of an annual report prepared by the federal agency.

“This report demonstrates that the department creates and supports private-sector jobs and economic growth in Colorado and communities across the nation,” said Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. “From mineral and energy development to conservation and recreation, the department is making investments in activities that strengthen our economy, build our energy portfolio and protect the places we cherish.”

Prepared by the Department of Interior Office of Policy Analysis, the report estimates the value of a variety of activities that take place on lands administered by the department as well as the number of jobs those activities support.

In Colorado, energy and mineral development on lands managed by the Interior Department supported 37,000 jobs, nearly 62 percent of the total for the state.

With about 17 million visits to recreation sites managed by the department in Colorado, recreation was estimated to support more than 14,000 jobs during the 2012 fiscal year.

Nationwide, activities on Interior Department lands accounted for $371 billion in economic benefits and supported 2.3 million jobs, the report stated.

Fossil fuels development once again accounted for the bulk of those numbers. The production of 5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, 626 million barrels of crude oil and 460 million tons of coal contributed a total of $230 billion to the national economy and supported 1.2 million jobs.

Renewable energy production also bolstered the total numbers in contributing $4.4 billion to the economy and supporting 18,000 jobs.

The delivery of water for agricultural, industrial and municipal uses contributed $47.4 billion to the economy while supporting 339,000 jobs.

Recreation constituted yet another large component of the overall figures. With an estimated total of 417 million visits to national parks, wildlife refuges and other lands managed by the Interior Department, recreation contributed $45 billion and supported 372,000 jobs.

Forage, grazing and timber accounted for a total contribution of $2.9 billion and supported 26,100 jobs.