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Study: "Quiet" Recreation Critical for Southern Utah Economy

New research released Friday shows "quiet" outdoor recreation near Cedar City, Utah, is an economic driver supporting more than 200 local jobs. (DXR/Wikimedia Commons)
New research released Friday shows "quiet" outdoor recreation near Cedar City, Utah, is an economic driver supporting more than 200 local jobs. (DXR/Wikimedia Commons)
July 21, 2017

CEDAR CITY, Utah – Non-motorized outdoor recreation has a big impact on Utah's economy, according to new research released Friday. In 2015, "quiet" recreation on public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management near Cedar City produced more than $17 million in direct spending.

Kristin Lee, a researcher with ECONorthwest, the group that produced the report, says these activities account for a majority of the region's outdoor recreation visits.

"When we looked specifically at the 'quiet' visits - hiking and camping and mountain biking - we found that there were 364,000," she says. "And that amounts to about to about 74 percent of all recreational visits."

The report, commissioned by The Pew Charitable Trusts, found that visitors spending money on equipment, food, gas, and lodging creates a ripple effect that generates more than $12 million for local and regional economies across Utah.

Quiet activities on BLM lands also support more than 200 local jobs.

Brynn Strain manages an outdoor gear and guide shop in Cedar City. She calls recreation visitors the lifeblood for her shop and says she can see the effects on the business community.

"If we get more people coming and recreating on the land, it, in turn, is going to come back to our businesses and improve the restaurants around here, the lodging," she explains. "So, they create a partnership that really is going to help Cedar City grow and thrive."

Tom Adams, director of the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation, says access to federally-protected lands - and the quality of life they add - are main reasons companies like Adobe and Goldman Sachs are moving to Utah. He adds all forms of outdoor recreation, motorized or not, are critical to the state's economy.

"Quiet recreation is definitely a gateway for a lot of people to get into recreation; it's very affordable," he notes. "It's a key part of Cedar City, but truly, it's a key part of our entire state, from Moab to Logan to St. George."

The BLM Cedar City Field Office manages just over two-million acres of public lands, including the Wah-Wah Mountains, the Needle Range - named for is sharp and jagged peaks - and critical wildlife corridors in Modena Canyon.

Support for this reporting was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - UT