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FISH MONEY (yes, fish-money) AND KEYSTONE

“The yearly value of fresh water fishing in eight states hosting Keystone pipeline oil is $4.6 billion…”
………This post is an open letter to Folks Who May Not Know Fish & Duck Power

 Dear Folks Who Don’t Know,

How can we change some pro-pipeline sentiment? Maybe we should do a cost-benefit on fish and ducks. 

The author, Penobscot River

Pipeline advocates often talk about real folks who “work with their hands for a living.” Now let’s include your guides, your tackle shop owners, your drift boat makers. And anyone who also sells you dogs, ammo, camo, blinds, rods, lures, bait, waders, or stuff to hunt or fish waters. Nature-based workers deliver billions of dollars of economic value and thousands and thousands of jobs.

In America, nature based businesses sell to and care for over 90 million people who, like you, spend money to fish, hunt, or watch wildlife. People who buy gas and lures, boats and rods, binoculars and calls. People who eat out and stay over.


To keep the conversation civil, let’s move over toward  Minnesota where $2.4 billion per year  comes into the state from angling, not counting the multiplier effect as money ripples out to other businesses—like rings in water that’s got to stay clean to deliver the money.

Add the state’s hunting value: another $700 million. All told, wildlife recreation in this state supports at least 35-40,000 jobs.


What if a chunk of that $3 billion hunting and fishing revenue disappeared for years….or longer? Imagine a tar sands pipeline leak or spill destroying just part of Minnesota’s waters. The loss spreads downriver, up the creek, into backwaters, even up to duck blinds. Imagine crippled fishing, hunting, and tourism businesses.

Most everywhere, our outdoor economy is virtually invisible. The research that documents its value has no public relations budget. The people who create nature-based jobs are usually small business owners who can’t match the lobbying power of the fossil fuel cartel and its bulldozer buddies. And they aren’t lobbying the president on exclusive golf courses either.

The Keystone Pipeline’s developers say they’ll offer about 3,700 jobs during construction (about one year) and 35-50 full time jobs after that. (Fifty jobs over 8 states that host the pipes?) And when pipes leak (they all do) and this worse-than-regular-oil seeps out to destroy thousands of jobs that endure not only for lifetimes but for generations of family businesses, how will we demand justice for a dead river of floating fish or a marsh of oil-drowned ducks?

The largest safety issue is not an insecure fossil fuel supply. It’s threats to our nature based economy.

The value of only fresh water angling in eight states hosting parts of the pipeline is $4.8 billion. For certain, the outdoor economies of Montana, South Dakota, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Nebraska, Texas, Oklahoma, and downstream states are not safe.


Expect 91 major spills over the 50 year Keystone lifetime (Univ. of Nebraska research). In 2010, the largest tar sands spill in U.S. history devastated Michigan’s Kalamazoo River: 170,000 barrels of tar sands oil—price tag of over $700 million and counting. The river’s fishery was obliterated.

Wildlife recreation is a nature-based U.S. industry so vast, at $145 billion per year it could be in the top ten Fortune 500 companies.

Our national wildlife recreation revenues rival Apple. They dwarf Ford.

But Apple and Ford and the Fortune 500 have billions of dollars to lobby their survival.

Every one of us who works in or loves the outdoors (as a healthy, intact resource) is charged with its future.  And everyone that claims to speak up for the “working man” (women, too) should be charged with its future as well.

Tight lines,

Sandra Neily, Moosehead Lake, Maine

Find U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service national and state economic surveys at:

pipeline spill analysis



Maine’s Wildlife: a $1.4 Billion Asset

Residents and nonresidents spent $1.4 billion on wildlife recreation in Maine

Title: 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation


Date Published: 2017

Reporter/Author/Researcher: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Link: National survey:

Maine survey:

Summary/quote: The national survey “has been conducted since 1955 and is one of the oldest and most comprehensive continuing recreation surveys. The Survey collects information on the number of anglers, hunters, and wild­life watchers, how often they partici­pate, and how much they spend on their activities in the United States.

The 2011 Survey found that 1.1 million Maine residents and nonresidents 16 years old and older fished, hunted, or wildlife watched in Maine. Of the total number of participants, 341 thousand fished, 181 thousand hunted, and 838 thousand participated in wildlife-watching activities…. many of the individ­uals engaged in more than one wildlife-related activity.”

…state residents and nonresidents spent $1.4 billion on wildlife recreation in Maine. “

(Nationally, nearly 38 percent of Americans participated in wildlife-related recreation, an increase of 2.6 million participants from the 2006 Survey. Wildlife-related recre­ation is a major driver of the nation’s economy. … Americans spent $145 billion …This spending creates thousands of jobs, supports countless local communities and provides vital funding for conser­vation.)

Key words: hunters, anglers, wildlife watching, jobs, American economy, conservation funding

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Comment: Our U.S. wildlife industry is so vast, at $145 billion per year it could be in the top ten Fortune 500 companies. Wildlife recreation revenues rival Apple’s. They dwarf Ford’s.

In Maine, information about the value of Maine’s wildlife “business” has, in the past, helped communities and legislators defeat destructive policies and bills and advance resource protections that support our community and state economies.

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Find Out More: Find a link for each state’s survey:


Maine’s Environment: $14 Billion in Services

” …include nature’s benefits in development accounting” 

reid st Park. AM 4.6.13

Title: Valuing Maine’s Natural Capital

Date Published: 2016

Reporter/Author/Researcher: Moore, R., Gunn, J.S., and A. Troy; Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, Natural Capital Initiative Report

Link: Executive Summary

Full report:


“Determining the economic value of natural processes is a new and emerging science, and this report comes as close as ever to a complete evaluation of nature’s benefits in Maine.

The annual contribution of forest-based manufacturing and forest-related recreation and tourism to the Maine economy is over $6.47 billion. But that beauty is skin deep. There is far greater value to Maine’s natural abundance and wildlands than aesthetics and recreation.

Obviously Maine’s grasslands, woodlots, and wetlands are vital to sustaining the ecological health of the Maine landscape. What this report shows is that, more than most people realize, society relies on well-functioning natural systems, too. What happens if we assign and incorporate a dollar value for natural systems into the calculus when we evaluate a development project?

Maine receives the equivalent value of more than $14 billion in natural services per year from its natural environment.”

Key words: nature, ecosystem services, wetlands, tourism, forests, natural capital, economic value

Comment: “As Maine becomes more urbanized, suburban­ized, mined, and otherwise developed and people spread from southern and coastal regions further into the state, the growing number of residents is putting a strain on natural systems. The time is right to include nature’s benefits into Maine’s development accounting.”


Find Out More: Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences


Maine Lakes: 3,000 Jobs, $30 Million In-state Users

 …and Water Quality Increases Property Values

Title: The Economics of Lakes – Dollars and $enseimages2SXCY0V3

Date Published: 2016 (Maine web site)

Reporter/Author/Researcher:  Maine Department of Environmental Protection


Key words: Maine, water clarity, water quality, property value, lakes, recreation, jobs, MichiganimagesUPVCU7A6

Comment: “…study is a partial estimate of user’s economic value and satisfaction because methods constrained estimates to only the most popular Maine lakes and could not include out-of-state users. Maine resident access users spend as much as $153 million annually on their recreation, 59% …spent in the communities nearest those lakes. This use supports as many as 3,000 jobs and generates in excess of $30

million income for Maine residents.

…the overall good water quality of Maine lakes is estimated to boost property owners’ value for lake use by $6 billion dollars more than the cost of the property they purchased.

…earlier studies found that a decline in water clarity can reduce property values by as much as $200 per frontage foot, representing hundreds of millions of dollars in lost property value and that lake use in general supports more than 8000 Maine jobs.” (ME DEP site)

“…users enjoy lakes with higher clarity more than they do those with lower clarity, and they spend less money when they visit lakes with lower clarity. … results suggest that local communities IMG_0057[1]have a substantial, vested economic interest in protecting water clarity…” The Effects of Water Clarity on Economic Values and Economic Impacts of Recreational Uses of Maine’s Great Pondsimages894X6DE1


Find Out More:

“The Effects of Water Clarity on Economic Values and Economic Impacts of Recreational Uses of Maine’s Great Ponds”

“Water Quality Affects Property Prices: A Case Study of Selected Maine Lakes”

“Great Ponds Play an Integral Role in Maine’s Economy”

“Water Quality Effects on Property Prices in Northern New England,” LakeLine Vol 23(3), pp. 24-27.

“The Value of Michigan Inland Lakes” (… value of shoreline property on Michigan’s inland lakes is $200 billion which, in turn, generates about $3.5 billion in annual tax revenues.)

Mt. Agamenticus; $5-6 Million Economic Value


Title: Economic Benefits of Conserving Land: Mount Agamenticus Area

Date:  2014

Reporter/Author/Researcher: for Defenders of Wildlife, Kroeger & McMurry

Link:   Article:

Full report:

Summary/quote:  “The total estimated annual value of the land uses included in our analysis ranged from $5.3 million to $6.4 million.”

Key words: recreation, timber harvest, carbon sequestration, water provisioning, open space, real estate value, economics

Comment: The researchers say their analysis is “conservative” as some information was not available or incomplete so there’s even more money in just this one mountain area. Residents and users have worked hard to protect this site and add more land to it. One of the complaints was, of course, the loss of income from land removed from the tax base, but the money that flows from a site like this dwarfs its tax profile. Just the fact that real estate values are higher near this  site and others like it, gives towns a windfall and owners, if and when they sell, more value. (And it’s such a fabulous snowshoe in fresh powder. Animal tracks! Thank you, protectors of the the “Big A.”)


Find Out More: The Mount Agamenticus to the Sea Conservation Initiative (MtA2C) is an effort led by a coalition of ten national, regional and local partners.   Almost 13,000 acres have been conserved. “By 2032, we will protect at least 6,000 more acres to bring the total conserved land in the Mount Agamenticus to the Sea focus area to 19,000 acres.”



New Maine Park: 500-1,000 Jobs

images8M8X58LVJobs for a “shifting economy…”

Title: The Regional Economy of Penobscot and Piscataquis Counties, Maine and a Potential National Park and Recreation Area

Date Published: 2013

Reporter/Author/Researcher: Headwaters Economics; Ray Rasker, Executive Director


Summary/quote: “This paper describes the economy of the region where Elliotsville Plantation, Inc. is considering a donation of land to create a National Park and recreation area, along with an endowment for maintenance in the Katahdin Region.

The economy of the study region… has shifted dramatically in recent decades. Forest products industry jobs have declined steadily…a modern services economy, has become the dominant form of economic activity.

There is little evidence that creation of a National Park and recreation area would harm the local forest products industry, or that there would be significant changes in local and state taxes collected. Instead, the NP/NRA has the potential to create new, high-quality experiences that benefit from the National Park Service brand, while protecting a unique flora and fauna, rivers, streams, lakes and ponds, and scenic vistas.”

The combined average private and public sector employment in comparable parks and similar locations is 1,055 jobs.

Key words: jobs, national park, Katahdin Region, recreation, forest products, Elliotsville Plantation, Inc.


Comment: This report, produced by nationally recognized resource economists, was also reviewed and vetted by Maine’s most experienced economists.

Find Out More: as well as Elliotsville Plantation’s site:

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