Today's Washington Post covered the story. Opening lines: "Forest Service officials have scaled back their assessment of how much recreation on national forest land contributes to the American economy, concluding that these activities generate just a tenth of what the Clinton administration estimated". Interestingly, an earlier, separate Federal agency study documented that the economic value associated with recreation in such forests increased by over 30% from 1996 to 2001. We just happened to have covered that in a recent post.
Hmmm. Never thought the stock market bubble and "911" would reduce the number of folks wanting to hike or bird watch. Wouldn't it be the other way around?
One likely playout scenario is this. When the Environmental Assessment of a mining, loggging, oil, or gas extraction project on Federally managed land is finished and a Federal Agency issues a record of decision, weighing all costs and benefits of a proposed action, this new finding swings the decision strongly in favor of extraction.
Feeling more like Easter Island every day now.