Terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems provide valuable services to humans and are a source of clean water, energy, raw materials, and productive soils. The Nation’s food supply is more secure because of wildlife. For example, native pollinators enhance agricultural crops, and insect-eating bats provide pest control services worth billions of dollars to farmers annually. Fish and wildlife are also vital to a vibrant outdoor recreation and tourism industry. Recreational activities, such as hunting, shooting, boating, and angling, generated \$1.1 billion in excise taxes paid to State wildlife agencies in 2017. National parks, wildlife refuges, and monuments accounted for $35 billion in economic output and 318,000 jobs nationwide in 2016. Additional economic benefits are generated from the use and enjoyment of wildlife in State-owned lands and waters.
Although the United States is rich in natural resources, human activity continues to place new pressures on fish and wildlife and the habitats they rely on. The United States became the world’s top producer of petroleum and natural gas products in 2012, surpassing Russia’s natural gas production levels in 2009 and Saudi Arabia’s petroleum production in 2013. The U.S. Energy Information Administration projects that the demand for liquid fuel, natural gas, and renewable energy will show strong growth in the next 20 years. Wind energy has demonstrated consistent growth since 2007 with now more than 53,000 wind turbines contributing to power grids in 41 States, Guam, and Puerto Rico. Solar energy has seen rapid growth since 2013 and made up nearly one-third of the total electricity generation additions in 2016. Yet as our Nation works to advance energy security and sustain wildlife, some conflicts have surfaced. Impacts of an expanding energy infrastructure include fragmentation and loss of habitat as well as mortality of birds, bats, fish, and other animals from interactions with energy generation facilities. Because energy development can often occur in wildlife habitats, ecological science can help guide project siting and operational decisions to areas that present the lowest risk to wildlife and energy developers.
To address these challenges and make the most of new opportunities, the U.S. Geological Survey is producing innovative science to develop workable solutions that can help sustain wildlife and the habitat they rely upon, while allowing informed development.