Colorado ranks high in report on economic benefits of BLM lands

Colorado ranked third highest among states in the mineral and recreation sectors in a new report evaluating the economic impact of activities managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

The BLM study found that lands under the agency’s jurisdiction in Colorado during the 2010 fiscal year were responsible for $6.1 billion in direct and indirect economic benefits from minerals development.

Wyoming topped the list, at $26.4 billion, followed by New Mexico, at $12.3 billion.

The breakdown in Colorado included $2.9 billion in direct and $4.8 billion total benefits from oil and gas development, and $782 million in direct and $1.3 billion in total benefits from coal.

Recreation on BLM lands and waters resulted in $532 million in total economic benefits in Colorado, behind California ($983 million) and Oregon ($662 million).

Colorado saw $304 million in direct benefits and had 6.4 million visitors for the year, compared with 10.2 million in California.

Nationwide, more than 58 million visits to BLM-managed property occurred, providing an economic impact of $7.4 billion, the BLM said.

In total, the agency’s management of public land contributed more than $112 billion to the national economy and directly and indirectly supported more than 500,000 jobs, its report said.

In Colorado, 28,260 jobs were supported, 11,785 of them direct. These included 22,912 minerals-related jobs, including 8,258 of them directly related to minerals extraction, and 4,864 recreation-related jobs, including 3,264 of them directly related to outdoor recreation.

Colorado had 68 directly related and 148 total jobs related to timber activities managed by the BLM, and 194 directly related and 336 total BLM-related grazing jobs. Logging on BLM-managed lands in the state resulted in $13.7 million in direct economic benefits and $46.6 million in total benefits. For grazing, the amounts were $28.3 million and $53.5 million.

In a teleconference last week, BLM director Bob Abbey said the BLM is focused on helping President Barack Obama carry out their common goal of making the country more energy-independent. Obama and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar recently sought to counter contentions that the administration is shutting down domestic oil and gas production.

Abbey said the BLM is one of the top revenue-generating agencies in government. It routinely returns $4 in revenue for every dollar appropriated to it by Congress, and it expects that amount to reach nearly $5 this fiscal year, he said.

“We believe that the BLM is a sound investment for our economy, and we’re committed to helping our nation compete and win,” Abbey said.


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