AUSTIN – Logging, mining, and oil/gas drilling in Texas’ national forests jeopardizes $8.4 billion per year in Texas business expenses, including activities such as fishing, hunting, and wildlife watching, according to a new report released today by Environment Texas.
The Environment Texas report on the value of recreation, water and wildlife, Worth More Wild: The Value of Texas’ Roadless National Forests, analyzes data from a national survey done by the United States Fish & Wildlife Service.
Key findings of the report include:
• In 2006, 5.4 million Texas residents participated in fishing, hunting, and wildlife watching, and these recreationists spent $8.4 billion in Texas on transportation, lodging, equipment, licenses, and other related items. The economic strength of this outdoor recreation relies on pristine and intact forestland, parks, and other natural areas.
• Annually, close to $300 million worth of freshwater comes from the Southern Forest Service region, which encompasses Texas.
• Undeveloped national forests provide critical habitat to Texas’ native wildlife, and at least seven of the state’s endangered species, including the red-cockaded woodpecker, would be even more threatened without the protection of roadless areas.
“Pristine forests boost local economies, provide unique outdoor opportunities, preserve wildlife, and protect watersheds, but a major portion of our national forestland is defenseless against drilling, logging, and mining,” said Environment Texas Field Associate Colin McKellips.
“Texas does not have a lot of public hunting lands. We must protect and preserve the lands that we do have so future generations will be able to enjoy the outdoors as we do,” said Bowhunting North America President James Ferguson.
Texas’ national forests face road building and resource extraction from mining, logging, and oil/gas drilling. Since those who choose to recreate in national forests tend to look for untouched lands, spoiling those lands will send recreationists and their money elsewhere.
“We produce energy in Texas, but we also value protecting our forests for recreational use, ” said Congressman Gene Green (D-Houston), a co-author of the Roadless Area Conservation Act.
Since 2000, Texas residents have submitted 64,658 comments to the Forest Service, with the vast majority supporting complete protection of these wild forestlands.
Environment Texas called on the members of Texas’ Congressional delegation to join Representatives Green, Reyes, Jackson-Lee, Gonzalez, Doggett, and Eddie Bernice Johnson in protecting these untouched forests by supporting the Roadless Area Conservation Act (H.R. 2516). The bill will protect 4,000 acres of roadless forests in Texas and 58.5 million acres of untouched forests nationally.
"Without roadless areas in Sam Houston National Forest there would be less undisturbed forest for wildlife. Visitors who seek solitude, quiet, enjoyment of natural sounds, and a primitive hiking experience would not have a place to go", said Brandt Mannchen, Forest Management Issue Chair for the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club.