Monday, February 27, 2006

Economic bonus from the ivory-bill

The Associated Press ran an article on Friday about the positive effect of ecotourism (aka nature tourism aka birding) on Brinkley, Ark.

If the ivory-billed woodpecker is getting a "second chance," as U.S. Interior Secretary Gale Norton put it, then so is the depressed part of Arkansas where the bird was rediscovered after being thought extinct for 60 years.

The Brinkley area, where poverty is prevalent and agriculture the mainstay, has become a tourist destination in the year since Cornell University researchers made the announcement.

Brinkley is the largest city in Monroe County, where 30.9 percent of people lived at or below the poverty level in 1999, the most recent figures available. The national number that year was 12.4 percent.

I sincerely like the idea that natural resources, such as the Big Woods and birds, could lure out-of-towners and reinvigorate small communities that provide services to them.

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