NOAA's Response and Restoration Blog

An inside look at the science of cleaning up and fixing the mess of marine pollution

Healthy Habitat, Healthy Economy: Restoration Creates American Jobs

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During high school and my first year of college, I landed a job working at a kayak tourism shop near Seattle, Wash. My job depended on having healthy beaches and parks we could take our customers to enjoy. Several of the areas we brought kayakers to were former industrial sites, which were now restored.

  Heavy equipment was used to remove dredge and landfill material from this site of marsh restoration.

Heavy equipment removes dredge and landfill material from this site of marsh restoration in Lincoln Park, N.J. According to a recent study, NOAA has created 33 jobs for every $1 million spent to restore habitat through “labor intensive” projects.

We often had lunch on a restored beach that had been damaged by an old wood-treatment facility. I got to see close up how those same heavy machines that injured habitat could also be used to reverse environmental damage, creating jobs both now and in the future. That beach restoration project ensured a job for workers who wore hardhats, and it also helped ensure jobs for those of us who wore life jackets to work.

Re-creating coastal habitats that were lost due to human impact doesn’t just benefit wildlife. It also supports fisheries, tourism, and coastal resiliency for years down the road. A recent study by the nonprofit Ecotrust [PDF, 1.6 MB] found that from 2001-2010 $411.4 million invested in restoration work in Oregon generated as much as $977.5 million in economic output.

And labor-intensive restoration—like building oyster reefs in coastal Alabama—creates more than 30 jobs per million dollars invested. (That’s more than twice as many jobs as the oil and gas and road construction industries combined.) Want to see more studies like this from around the nation? We’ve got you covered.

Restoration projects create jobs for construction workers, landscapers, heavy equipment operators, and technical experts such as engineers and wildlife biologists. These same restoration projects also create demand for local businesses, such as plant nurseries and rock quarries.

The Office of Response and Restoration is just one piston of the NOAA engine for coastal restoration. Restoration projects being led by NOAA are occurring all across this county. Visit NOAA’s Restoration Atlas to locate one near you.

Watch this video to learn even more about how the restoration economy is helping to keep people in jobs:

Author: Joe Inslee

Joe Inslee is a policy/outreach analyst with NOAA’s Assessment and Restoration Division. His work helps raise the visibility of the critical scientific work his office conducts after a hazardous release.

2 thoughts on “Healthy Habitat, Healthy Economy: Restoration Creates American Jobs

  1. Excellent entry Joe! You are the man!

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