New Report Shows that Public Lands Protections Provide Major Boost to Small Businesses

For Immediate Release: 
Wednesday, April 6, 2016

National monuments designated by President Obama drive $156 million in annual revenue and create more than 1,800 jobs per year

Washington, DC - Today Small Business Majority, a national small business advocacy organization, released a new economic study completed by BBC Research & Consulting, Economic Impacts of Obama Administration Natural National Monuments, demonstrating the strong link between the protection of public lands and economic growth. As the report outlines, during his time in office President Obama has used his authority under the Antiquities Act to protect 22 national monuments, which have had a measurable impact on the local communities and businesses surrounding them. The 10 monuments studied in the report have a total economic impact of $156 million per year, drive approximately $58 million in labor income per year, and support approximately 1,820 jobs annually.

Because natural and cultural monuments are often located in rural areas, they are particularly beneficial to small businesses, including those that support tourism and outdoor recreation. The report also shows that tourism to public lands can grow significantly after a monument designation – between 2003 and 2007 alone, some sites saw a 500 percent increase.

"The national monuments protected by President Obama not only conserve natural and cultural treasures – but cumulatively drive economic growth and help to sustain the small businesses that are the backbone of our economy," said Rhett Buttle, President & Managing Director for Small Business Majority. "As this report shows, protecting our nation's natural assets is a smart move that boosts tourism dollars in these often rural areas, providing increased economic opportunities for entrepreneurs and their communities."

"President Obama did our country a great service by designating these national monuments. In addition to displaying stark landscapes and breathtaking natural beauty, areas like Nevada's Basin and Range National Monument also provide new opportunities to the rural, hardworking communities that serve as the gateways to these spectacular places," said Nevada Senator Harry Reid. "Too often, we only view land as valuable when it is being developed, mined, drilled or logged. But, as this report shows, we can protect the most magnificent areas of our nation while also providing real opportunities for local economies."

"This report demonstrates the significant impact national monuments make on the economies of their surrounding communities, and I commend the Small Business Majority for its work to disseminate this data," said New Mexico Senator Martin Heinrich. "I am proud to have worked alongside local coalitions to welcome the President's designation of both Rio Grande del Norte National Monument and Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. Both of these new monuments will permanently protect treasured landscapes in the Taos and Las Cruces areas, and are also proving to be good for business. New visitors from across the country and around the world are fueling New Mexico's tourism industry and creating new jobs and business opportunities."

Other key findings in the 2016 BBC study include:

  • National monument visitation results in approximately $58 million in labor income per year, with the lodging industries produces the most labor income in the local economy ($10.5 million). Other key sectors supported by visitor spending include restaurants ($7.4 million) and gasoline ($8.7 million).
  • Between 2011 and 2015, there were about 3.9 million visits to the Obama-designated natural and cultural national monuments annually. Day use of Obama-designated national monuments by local residents (those who live within 60 miles of the monument) represents 49 percent of visitation, while 20 percent of all visits are by non-local overnight visitors.
  • Average expenditures made by non-local visitors whose primary trip purpose was to visit one of the national monuments total $129 million, while local visitors spend about $51 million on primary trips to the national monuments.

The report also underscores the importance of the Antiquities Act as a driver of public lands conservation. Since it became law in 1906, the Antiquities Act has been used by sixteen presidents  eight Republicans and eight Democrats. Despite strong public support and a bipartisan tradition of use, the Antiquities Act continues to face ongoing attacks in Congress.

Senators Reid and Heinrich will be discussing key details from the report in an event on Capitol Hill today along with several small business owners, including Vernita Naylor, owner of Jabez Enterprise Group in Oakland, California.

"National monuments are important to small businesses like mine because they offer job creation, business growth and stimulate the economy," said Naylor. "By designating new national monuments and increasing tourism in our areas, we can continue to strengthen small businesses, communities and local economies."

For more information or to speak to Small Business Majority or BBC about the report findings, please contact Mia Jacobs at [email protected] / 202-478-6149 or Katie Andriulli at [email protected] / 917-438-4605.

BBC Research & Consulting is one of the oldest privately-held economic and market research firms in the Rocky Mountain West. Founded in 1970, BBC provides economic, financial, statistical, market, and policy research and advisory services to businesses and governmental interests nationwide. BBC's staff of professionals includes market analysts; economists; financial analysts; urban and land planners; policy analysts; management consultants; and statisticians. As specialists in the collection, analysis, and reporting of information, BBC emphasizes real-world services to meet the changing needs of our clients. BBC's work has been recognized with awards from a wide range of associations, including the American Planning Association, the American Marketing Association, and the Public Relations Society of America. In addition, BBC's work is frequently recognized in the media and our staff has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, USA Today, Forbes Magazine, and other publications. For more information, please visit