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The Economic Impacts of Forest and Watershed Restoration in Oregon
OWEB Research Grant
University of Oregon, Ecosystem Workforce Program

Photo courtesy of the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council
Through its investment in watershed restoration, OWEB helps improve the ecological and economic health of Oregon’s communities.  A recent research project from the University of Oregon Ecosystem Workforce Program shows that every $1 million of public investment in clean water and habitat restoration creates about 15-24 total jobs.  
The Ecosystem Workforce Program describes this as an emerging “restoration economy,” a marketplace for watershed restoration goods and services.  Organizations that receive OWEB grants typically hire local businesses. Most of these businesses are small, with less than $1 million in revenue. The research shows that 90% of OWEB investments stay in Oregon.
Every dollar invested in watershed restoration projects travels through Oregon’s economy in several ways. Restoration project managers hire consultants, contractors, and employees to design, implement and maintain projects. Consultants and contractors hire field crews, rent or purchase equipment, and buy goods and services. Employees spend wages on goods and services to support their livelihoods in their local communities. The payoffs of habitat restoration projects yield immediate jobs at a level very similar to traditional infrastructure investments. 
Key Findings: 
According to the UofO study, OWEB investments have supported nearly 2,700 jobs or about 230 jobs per year.  If distributed across the state, this equates to nearly seven jobs per county per year, or potentially one to two small businesses per county.
OWEB is the largest provider of non-federal restoration funds in the state. 
The vast majority of contractors are small and local; over 97% meet the Small Business Association definition for small businesses. 
The Research:
“As far as we know, this research is the first of its kind to look in-depth at the economic impacts of forest and watershed restoration.  We combined information from extensive contractor interviews with fiscal data from watershed restoration grants to build a picture of how restoration contractors and projects create economic opportunity,”  Cassandra Moseley, Director Ecosystem Workforce Program.
  • 52 Watershed Council Coordinators were interviewed.
  • 190 contractors were surveyed.
  • Fiscal information from 99 OWEB grants was thoroughly reviewed.

Working and Briefing Papers
Economic and Employment Impacts of Forest and Watershed Restoration in Oregon
Briefing Paper (PDF), Working Paper (PDF)
The Business of Restoration: A Profile of Restoration Contractors in Oregon
Briefing Paper (PDF), Working Paper (PDF)
Mobilizing Human Resources for Watershed Restoration
Briefing Paper (PDF), Working Paper (PDF) 
A Growing Watershed Restoration Industry in Oregon
Briefing Paper (PDF)
Economic Impact and Job Creation from Forest and Watershed Restoration: A Preliminary Assessment
Briefing Paper (PDF)
A Preliminary Estimate of Economic Impact and Job Creation from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board’s Restoration Investments
Briefing Paper (PDF)

Additional Information
The Economic Impacts of Forest and Watershed Restoration in Oregon (PDF), PowerPoint presentation to the OWEB Board, January 2010.
The Economic and Community Effects of Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board Investments in Watershed Restoration (PDF), by Kristin Bonner and Michael Hibbard 2002.