There's been a closer look this week at the natural resources investments in the Senate's economic recovery package, with some senators suggesting they should be pared down to reduce the cost of the bill. What seems to be lost in some of the discussions is that those investments are some of the best, fastest job creators we can offer up.

For every one billion dollars in stimulus funding related to natural resources, at least 20,000 jobs will be created. As written, the Senate's economic recovery package would invest $3.5 billion in wildlife and habitat restoration, sustaining at least 70,000 jobs. These shovel-ready projects create jobs while making a down payment on safeguarding communities and businesses that rely on healthy natural resources in this new era of global warming. If we put off our support, we stand to lose not only the natural services they provide, but also the economic pillars they sustain.

Green investments create jobs today and lay a solid foundation for economic growth tomorrow and beyond. America's natural resources provide the basis for our outdoor recreation industry, which accounts for 1 in 20 jobs in America and contributes more than $700 billion annually to the U.S. economy.

The Senate economic recovery package also includes the following investments:

  • $73 billion for efficiency and renewable energy (a 335 percent increase from FY'09 spending on efficiency and renewables).

  • Up to $20 billion to modernize schools with efficiency and renewable energy, and up to $400 million in green education and job training.

  • $250 million to help advance more sustainable, next generation biofuels and energy efficiency on farms.

In addition to protecting the natural resource provisions already in the bill, the National Wildlife Federation supports the following amendments:

  • Landrieu amendment: Would increase funding by $2 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers to restore priority ecosystems such as the Everglades, Long Island Sound, Great Lakes, and Mississippi River.

  • Bingaman amendment: Would increase funding by $2.5 billion for habitat restoration on wildlife refuges, national parks, national forests, and other public lands and for State Wildlife Grants. - 45,000 jobs.

  • Harkin/Thune amendment: Would increase funding for several USDA programs that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency.  The programs would help advance next generation biofuels and bioenergy that are friendlier to wildlife and more sustainable than corn ethanol.

After years of gridlock in Washington, we have an opportunity for a new beginning that promises to repower America with clean energy and to protect our planet in peril. A green recovery package provides specific opportunities to turn that vision into reality.