Study: Owyhee Protections Could Grow Local Economy
Friday, July 15, 2016
PORTLAND, Ore. - The big, beautiful canyonlands of the Owyhee River in eastern Oregon are a boon for both recreation-seekers and the local economy, according to a new study. The research, commissioned by the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association or NSIA, finds recreational activities contribute nearly $70 million annually to communities within 150 miles of the Owyhee Canyonlands.
Dan Cherry, director of communication and membership with the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association (NSIA) said that's good news for the fishing industry and the local economy.
"What the study found is residents or visitors, they're coming in, they're hiking, they're boating, they're rafting, they're fishing, they're hunting, and all of those people are spending money that gets cycled throughout the local economy," he said. "It creates jobs, and creates economic security for the area."
The study said recreational activity in the area has created more than 700 local jobs.
Cherry said permanent protections play a part in the economic puzzle, too. He points to a study of the Río Grande del Norte region in New Mexico, which predicted that visits to the area would increase if it was given national monument status. The forecast was right, and Cherry said the same could be true for the Owyhees, if the land gets stronger environmental protections.
"By protecting the area and giving that assurance, it really could only improve things," he added. "And there's nothing in the permanent protections, nothing that we're proposing, that would hamper current activity."
Cherry said the NSIA wants to see responsible land use, such as ranching and grazing, continue. But he hopes practices that harm the landscape, such as unauthorized use of ATVs or energy development, are halted.
Cherry adds while the NSIA is pro-business and has the fishing industry in mind, the organization's message and environmental preservation are not at odds with each other.
"Our industry can't survive without healthy rivers that sustain healthy populations of fish," he said. "And in understanding that, we've learned that we have to strike a balance between what is sustainable and what is good for business today."
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