The economics of recreation: Study shows contributions of anglers, hunters

It should come as no surprise that Colorado’s streams and public lands are also a major component of the state’s economy. According to a new report eleased by the Sonoran Institute and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, anglers and hunters offer a Fortune 500 boost to Colorado’s coffers. This contribution is especially significant as Western governors grapple over the future of designated roadless areas in their states.

“If hunters and anglers comprised a corporation, they’d be in the top 3 percent of the Fortune 500 list,” said Bill Geer, a manager for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “By virtue of their economic impact alone, sportsmen’s views on land protection need to be at the forefront as our governors consider whether to petition for the protection of inventoried roadless areas in their states.”

The report, “Backcountry Bounty: Hunters, Anglers and Prosperity in the American West,” shows that undeveloped public lands are increasingly an economic asset for Western communities.

“Hunters and anglers are the bedrock of conservation tradition,” said Luther Propst, executive director of the Sonoran Institute. “They often seek out protected roadless lands that preserve habitat and wildlife – and access to those lands is critical.”

Under a new rule established last year by the Bush administration, governors can petition the U.S. Forest Service to protect “roadless” areas. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson recently became the first Western governor to file a petition under the new rule, requesting the protection of 1.6 million acres of roadless land. In Colorado, the Colorado Roadless Areas Review Task Force has been tapping the public pulse with meetings around the state. The task force plans to issue a recommendation on which roadless areas – including the Hermosa Creek Roadless Area – should be preserved. Gov. Bill Owens will receive the recommendation by Sept. 13 and then forward a final opinion to the secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture prior to November.

– Will Sands

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