BOZEMAN, Mont. - During 2005, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) spent more than $68 million on conservation programs in Montana. This investment in Montana's economy and environment is projected to generate a total of $128 million in economic activity and create or maintain 1,052 jobs. This investment represents conservation practices installed this past year as well as contracts signed by producers for future practice installations.
“We are proud of the work we do to create healthy and productive lands in Montana,” said Dave White, NRCS state conservationist. “Now, we can also show the additional economic benefits provided by conservation work.”
Conservation activities impact local economies with changes in production, recreation, jobs, taxes, and spending. These impacts do not occur just once, but have a multiplier effect. For example, paying a contractor to install a stockwater pipeline helps pay employee salaries and other operating costs and provides a profit for the contractor. The contractor and employees will then spend their earnings at other local businesses. Thus, one dollar will circulate within the community several times.
The NRCS is using the computer program IMPLAN to estimate the economic benefits of conservation programs, in addition to the environmental benefits, to local communities. IMPLAN is an economic impact analysis program that uses the total impact per dollar to calculate the additional economic activity and number of jobs that can be attributed to conservation spending in Montana.
IMPLAN was developed by the U.S. Forest Service for use in land resource planning and has evolved into a valuable tool used by both public and private entities for a variety of purposes including business development and community growth.