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Study: Idaho Makes Millions a Year from “Quiet” Recreation on BLM Lands

A new study shows Idaho makes almost $300 million a year from non-motorized recreation on BLM-managed lands in the state. (cimmy/morguefile)
A new study shows Idaho makes almost $300 million a year from non-motorized recreation on BLM-managed lands in the state. (cimmy/morguefile)
April 1, 2016

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - A new study shows that Idaho rakes in almost $300 million a year from so-called "quiet" recreation: hunting, camping, fishing and hiking, on land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

According to the report commissioned by the Pew Charitable Trusts, the researchers found $189 million comes from direct spending and another $56 million is pay for more than 2,300 jobs.

Kristin Lee, project director with ECONorthwest, the firm that conducted the study, said the totals for 11 western states plus Alaska are stunning - $2.8 billion into the national economy.

"We found that there were over 38 million 'quiet' recreation visits, which is about 63 percent of all visits to BLM land." she said. "And those visitors spent $1.8 billion in local communities."

The report said in Idaho in 2014, non-motorized recreation generated almost 4 million visits to almost 12 million acres of BLM-managed lands across the state.

Jimmy Gabettas, owner of All Seasons Angler in Idaho Falls, said BLM lands are essential to his business.

"These areas attract a lot of tourists to Idaho, and they come in search of high-quality backcountry recreation," he said. "And without these unspoiled BLM lands, the business wouldn't be as economically viable."

Ken Rait, director of Public Lands Program at the Pew Charitable Trusts, refers to BLM lands as "the goose that lays the golden egg for western economies," and so, should be protected.

"BLM lands have historically been viewed as treasure troves for those who wanted to drill, mine or graze their natural resources," he said. "It's only really in the last decade or so that a different kind of treasure has been discovered on BLM land - those of conservation and recreational values."

The study also found that nationally, non-motorized recreation on western BLM lands supports 25,000 jobs.

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

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Support for this reporting comes from Pew Charitable Trusts.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - ID