Study Shows Ecological Restoration Boosts Economy

Efforts at ecological restoration have added some $65 million and 300 jobs to California’s Humboldt County economy between 1995 and 2002, concludes a study released yesterday by the nonprofit social science firm Forest Community Research. Over the last 25 years, government agencies, tribes, landowners, private contractors, and environmental groups have worked together to repair environmental damage and put the county at the forefront of the ecological-restoration industry, laying waste to the familiar claim that doing right by the environment means doing damage to local communities. The study estimates that the value of Humboldt’s restoration economy — which includes stream restoration projects and wild salmon rearing — is roughly double the value of its commercial fishing. And there’s plenty left to do: “The backlog of work is staggering,” says lead researcher Mark Baker. “They won’t be working themselves out of a job for quite a while.”