The Emerald Corridor is one of the fastest growing regions in the nation. It has a regional economy of $347 billion and a population of 4.5 million. Our recent report, Gem of the Emerald Corridor: Nature’s Value in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, identifies the important benefits that the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest provides to this rapidly growing region. Each year, more than 2 million people visit the MBSNF, and spend $90 million in local economies. Over 75 percent of these visitors come from cities west of the cascades, moving dollars from the urban core to rural communities.
But even when we aren’t recreating in the forest, we are benefiting from the clean water, clean air, and breathtaking aesthetics. Each year, the forest provides over $3 billion in water-related services, $1.7 billion in air quality benefits, and billions more in other ecosystem services such as habitat, disaster risk reduction, and climate regulation. Viewing the ecosystems of the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie as a natural asset, delivering goods and services to our region year over year, the asset value is estimated to be $1 trillion.
The current annual budget of the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest is just $9.7 million dollars, while annually, the forest produces an estimated $30 billion in ecosystem services and supports $90 million in recreation-related economic activity in local communities. Understanding the economic benefits that this key asset provides is fundamental to dictating how we manage it. The forest is clearly a strong investment that pays high dividends, which we all benefit from, and we should act accordingly.