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Study: Wildlife Draws Huge Crowds to Idaho BLM Lands

In 2016, activities involving wildlife on BLM lands in Idaho supported more than 2,500 jobs. (BLMIdaho/Flickr)
In 2016, activities involving wildlife on BLM lands in Idaho supported more than 2,500 jobs. (BLMIdaho/Flickr)
September 28, 2018

BOISE, Idaho – Wildlife on Idaho's Bureau of Land Management lands provides a big economic boost to the state, according to a new report.

A first-of-its-kind study conducted by Southwick Associates finds there were more than 460,000 hunting trips, nearly 300,000 fishing trips and more than 190,000 visits to see wildlife on Idaho BLM lands in 2016. Those excursions generated $85 million in salaries and wages.

Executive Director of the Idaho Wildlife Federation Brian Brooks says hunting and fishing are Idaho traditions, and this shines a light on their critical role in the state's economy.

"BLM lands provide many things to the citizens of Idaho, both economically and culturally, and I think this report just shows that we really need to balance the resources out on BLM lands,” says Brooks. “And wildlife should not take a back seat among those resources."

Nearly 12 million acres of land in the Gem State are managed by the BLM. The report also found hunting, angling and wildlife-viewing supported more than 2,500 jobs in Idaho and generated $15 million in state and local tax revenue.

Rob Southwick, president of Southwick Associates – which did the research, says it's important to note that local – and usually rural – communities are the ones seeing the largest economic benefits here.

"Typically with fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing, it occurs in rural areas, which puts it out of sight, out of mind,” says Southwick. “And as a result, people often don't understand how significant it might be."

The study also looked at BLM lands in 11 other western states. In the 12 states combined, hunting, fishing and wildlife-watching generated more than a billion dollars in salaries and wages, and supported more than 26,000 jobs in 2016.

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

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ID