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Green Jobs Include More Than You Might Think

Green Jobs Include More Than You Might Think

By JP Leous

Say “green jobs” and most people think of wind turbines and solar panels — but there is a whole other component to “green jobs” that gets far less attention and can have tremendous economic, ecological and health impacts for communities across the country. These jobs can put people to work today while protecting our communities for years to come. Sound too good to be true?

The panel I moderated, American Jobs on American Lands, at this year’s Good Jobs, Green Jobs conference came at the green jobs topic from a different angle than most would expect. Instead of the aforementioned turbines and solar panels — both of which are critical for clean energy it focused on the people putting green restoration and adaptation projects on the ground in communities across the country.

A scientist colleague of mine laid out why we need these kinds of projects. It went something like this: even if we halted all greenhouse gas emissions yesterday, we’ll still have decades of climate impacts. A comprehensive climate and energy solution must address both the causes and effects of global warming. While we move away from filthy fuels and ramp up clean energy, we must also help our natural resources remain resilient in a warming world — so they can continue to provide valuable services including coastal storm protection, and cleaning our air and water. The best part is, projects that restore and enhance our wetlands, forests and streams can protect and create thousands of jobs across the country.

But for most folks “environmental restoration” or “natural resource adaptation” doesn’t mean much — if anything it sounds vaguely like a Boy Scout Saturday morning river clean up. But it’s much more!

Let’s use an old, unwanted logging road removal project to help paint a jobs picture. Years ago in a forest, a logging company dug out a crude dirt pathway so it could drive in trucks and extract trees from deep within the forest. When it was done, the company didn’t repair the damage — so for years there’s been a huge scar tracing up the side of a mountain. Every time it rains, Mudslides wipe out acres of habitat and dump into the stream below. To restore the forest’s health a road removal project is initiated to remove the road, re-contour the landscape, plant native vegetation and improve ecosystem health. Engineers, hydrologists, ecologists, project managers, heavy equipment operators, back office associates and many others are needed to move this project from concept to completion. From paychecks in workers’ pockets to renting equipment to purchasing project materials, the project injects money into the economy. After the project is complete, the forest is far healthier — and serves as critical habitat for wildlife, cleaning our air and water, and giving us places to hike, bike and fish.

Panelists included experts in restoration and natural resources adaptation, including Storm Cunningham, CEO of Resolution Fund, LLC, Tim Purinton, Acting Director of the Massachusetts Dept of Fish and Game, Division of Ecological Restoration, and Brett Berkley Sr. Vice President of GreenVest. They talked about the impacts that changing our notion of green jobs can have on economy and our country. Glenn Hurowitz, Director of Avoided Deforestation Partners shared that a $1 million investment into land restoration and reforestation can create or save almost 40 jobs.

The Outdoor Industry Association’s Frank Hugelmeyer shared some powerful stats demonstrating the far-reaching impact climate adaptation projects can have on America’s economy and general wellbeing. Guess what? People don’t like to fish, camp or hike in run-down, nasty, and unhealthy places — so natural resource adaptation jobs help protect outdoor recreation jobs too! Bet you didn’t know that active outdoor recreation supports 6.5 million jobs and generates roughly $730 billion in economic activity … every year.

These jobs are real – and really good for the economy. They bolster local economies – Brett sources labor for all of the projects his Company Greenvest does throughout New England and the Mid-Atlantic from local communities — and bolster a thriving outdoor recreation economy. It’s time to change the palette of green jobs — and add restoration and adaptation to the mix of making a clean, green economy.


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4:02PM PST on Feb 22, 2011

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1:12PM PST on Jan 4, 2011

I'm glad someone finally came up with this. I have been trying to convince my friends and family who are very stern about environmental conservation about this, the same thing my dad always said.
They just didn't think that a heavy equipment operator knows about conservation. Especially when we have spent our lives working in the Timber industry.Yes, I am a Logger. 6th generation.
We have ben trying to get someone to listen to us about how to care for our forests. Our lives depend on it in many ways.
Putting the old roads back is one of the many ways we can do it.
It does everything you say and more. The trick to it is adding the drainage in the right way though.
Thank you for bringing this to light.

12:19PM PDT on Aug 13, 2010

Wow, I didn't know how many great jobs there were. We need to get rid of that dirt road!

5:36AM PDT on Aug 8, 2010

This is a great site for looking at what kinds of great jobs are out there! If people realized how much cleaning up the environment means MORE jobs, not less, there would be so much more support for environmental issues and getting off our fossle fuel addiction!

2:10PM PDT on Jul 20, 2010

It would be my dream to have a sustainable, economically viable, green career, so I eagerly went to and read this article and the linked articles only to be a little underwhelmed.
I anyone can fill in the gaps of info void, I would be really grateful.

11:46PM PDT on Jul 12, 2010

I'd love to have a Green job! The information here was a little vague, so besides doing a huge Google search, anyone know how to find out more?

11:35PM PDT on Jul 6, 2010


10:49AM PDT on Jun 13, 2010

Very interesting.. so much out there the average person jsut doesnt know about

3:40PM PDT on Jun 7, 2010

love to hear stories like this

3:23AM PDT on May 27, 2010

I pledge to do what I can;

"We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in. For it can be a means of reassuring ourselves of our sanity as creatures, a part of the geography of hope."
- Wallace Stegner, the Wilderness Letter

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