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Report: Restore FL Public Lands and Rescue the Economy with New Jobs

January 15, 2009

Getting to work on the backlog of restoration projects on public lands would bring cash to states along with new jobs, according to a report by conservation groups meeting in Washington. The groups, including the National Parks Conservation Association,Defenders of Wildlife, Audubon, National Wildlife Federation and The Wilderness Society, are calling for Congress to create a modern-day version of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) from the 1930s, dedicated to improving public lands and reducing global warming.

The study finds an investment of about $20 billion, as part of the economic stimulus plan, would create nearly 450,000 jobs across the nation.

The conservation groups already have proposed "shovel-ready" projects to Congress. For instance, in Florida, the plan could mean repairs at Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas, further Everglades restoration, and rebuilding wildlife refuges like Ding Darling near Ft. Meyers.

Noah Kahn is with Defenders of Wildlife.

"Employing and training workers while improving the health of America's land and water is a win-win situation, and will lay the foundation for tomorrow's greener and more energy efficient economy."

According to the report, recreation involving wildlife and public lands generates $730 billion a year, and provides 6.5 million jobs. Kahn adds Defenders of Wildlife could put 20,000 more people to work inside of 90 days, if there were funding.

April Smith with Audubon estimates $1 billion could create 50,000 to 70,000 new jobs nationally. In the Everglades, she says, this money could mean new life for 68 endangered species and protection of resources for people.

"Continued delays will further endanger the river of grass and freshwater drinking supplies for South Florida, which are currently under siege by increasing development and the growing threat of global warming."

Craig Obey with National Parks Conservation Association says job creation is important, but what's most vital is the historic opportunity to preserve the nation's natural heritage, as the CCC once did.

"You see the lasting investment that was made by people who had the foresight to think about quality of life at a time when our nation needed job creation."

Gina Presson , Public News Service - FL