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Study: Wildlife Related Recreation an Economic Driver in Wyoming

In 2016, visits to western BLM lands resulted in 2.8 million fishing trips. (USFWS)
In 2016, visits to western BLM lands resulted in 2.8 million fishing trips. (USFWS)
October 1, 2018

CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Hunting, fishing and wildlife watching on Bureau of Land Management lands generate more than $3 billion in economic activity annually, according to a new Southwick Associates study.

The report is the first to document how these specific activities across 12 western states support tens of thousands of jobs and generate significant local and state tax revenues.

Joy Bannon, policy director for the Wyoming Wildlife Federation, says these longstanding outdoor traditions don't just benefit local communities and the state financially.

"As an outdoors woman and mom of two small children, the BLM lands offer millions of acres of open space, angling opportunities, camping spots and hunting adventures that increase our quality of life here in Wyoming," she points out.

In Wyoming, more than 2,600 jobs accounting for more than $88 million in salaries and wages are supported by wildlife related recreation on public BLM lands.

Those activities also generate $331 million in sales and add $24 million to state and local tax coffers.

The Trump administration has prioritized energy development on public lands in order to achieve what it calls energy dominance.

Bannon says the report shows how managing public lands for multiple uses can pay economic dividends.

Rob Southwick, president of Southwick Associates, the firm conducting the study, says outdoor recreation is a steady and stable source of economic activity, unlike the historically "boom and bust" cycles of energy development.

Since the recreation occurs in rural areas, Southwick says many Americans don't see the economic activity generated.

"So we know the typical trip generates, for a fishing trip, $290 per trip,” he points out. “Typical hunting trip on these lands generates $281 per trip. And wildlife viewing is $161 per trip, mainly based on less equipment demands for wildlife viewing, versus fishing and hunting, but still equally important."

Southwick says wildlife related recreation deserves the same attention as any other major U.S. industry.

In 2016, visits to western BLM lands resulted in over 3 million hunting trips, 2.8 million fishing trips and over 2 million trips to view wildlife.

These activities generated more than $1 billion in salaries and wages, over 26,000 jobs, and $421 million in federal, state and local tax revenue.

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

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - WY