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Report: "Quiet Recreation" on BLM Land a Major Economic Boost

Non-motorized recreation on national lands overseen by the Bureau of Land Management supports 25,000 jobs and generates $2.8 billion for the U.S. economy. (Pixabay)
Non-motorized recreation on national lands overseen by the Bureau of Land Management supports 25,000 jobs and generates $2.8 billion for the U.S. economy. (Pixabay)
April 1, 2016

DENVER - "Quiet" or non-motorized recreation on public lands managed by the federal Bureau of Land Management adds $2.8 billion to the U.S. economy and supports almost 25,000 jobs, according to a new study commissioned by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Kristin Lee, project director with the independent firm ECONorthwest that conducted the study, said nearly two-thirds of visitors to BLM lands engage in such non-motorized activities as camping, hiking, hunting and fishing.

"Perhaps because the noisier kinds of recreation tend to get noticed a little bit more, we were interested in looking at the effects of these other activities, these quiet activities," she said.

The study covered a dozen western states including Colorado, and found in 2014, these "quiet" visitors spent nearly $2 billion in communities within 50 miles of BLM sites. Lee said an economic ripple effect is created in surrounding towns when people eat at local restaurants and buy supplies, gas and groceries.

John Sztukowski, coordinator with Wild Connections, works in central Colorado, where he said access to wild and unspoiled public lands is critical to the region's rafting and fishing businesses. He said keeping at least a small percentage of land free from the roar of snowmobile and ATV motors is more than just an economic issue.

"Not only for quiet recreation, but just for the landscape itself, just thinking of the wildlife corridors," he said. "It's one of the more intact places of the United States, and it'd be great to see it continue that way and have species thrive again."

Sztukowski is hopeful the new study will encourage people who hike, camp, hunt and fish to take part in the BLM's public-input process now under way. The study found in Colorado alone, just under 5 million visitors took part in quiet outdoor activities in the state's 8.4 million acres of BLM lands in 2014.

The full study can be read online at pewtrusts.org.

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Support for this reporting comes from Pew Charitable Trusts.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO