Fish Passage Projects Mean Money and Jobs

A recent article in the New York Daily News outlined some of the cuts proposed by Senate Republicans to the economic stimulus package. Included among those projects was $20 million to remove fish barriers that is earmarked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Naysayers are wrong if they think investing in fish passage projects won’t stimulate the economy. Funding, such as that set aside in the Senate bill, will have positive short and long-term economic impacts. Analysis by the Economic Policy Institute estimates that every $1 million in the industry of agriculture/forestry/fisheries—which includes restoration—generates 20.3 jobs.

The Cache River Wetlands Project, for example, created over $12 million in economic output and directly employed 220 workers. Each project this funding supports means local jobs for engineers, surveyors, demolition/construction crews, and jobs for out-of-work watermen and loggers. In order to restore these sites, these crews purchase gas, equipment, and materials that further stimulate the economy.

The long-term economic outlook from an unimpeded, restored fishery can include increasing use of the river for fishing and boating, which bolsters local tourism and additional dollars spent on fishing licenses, gas, food, lodging, etc. Just ask folks in Augusta, ME; Gold Hill, OR; West Bend, WI; and many other towns throughout the country that have benefited from these restoration projects.

In addition to creating and saving jobs, these restoration projects are an essential component to restoring sustainable fisheries and often have water quality benefits. Removal of some of the thousands of out-dated, non?functional dams eliminates safety hazards, while other projects help to address failing infrastructure in local municipalities where funds are lacking to correct a safety hazard or re-establish other community services.

Investing in river restoration is a win-win for both the environment and the economy.