Economic impact of outdoors huge in Colorado
Conserving federal public lands is vital to the economic well-being of the West, asserts a letter to President Barack Obama from more than 100 of the nation’s leading economists and academicians.
According to the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, the letter details the far-reaching economic benefits these public lands accrue to communities and individuals alike.
“Sportsmen have always known that sound conservation practices produce tangible economic benefits,” TRCP President and CEO Whit Fosburgh said. “Conservation funding and well-managed public lands are critical to our hunting and fishing traditions.”
The letter comes on the heels of a study commissioned by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation that says outdoor recreation supports $289 billion in annual retail sales and services and supports more than 6.5 million jobs nationwide.
“Our nation’s network of federal-to-local parks, forests, rivers, lakes and trails are at the heart of this growing industry,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, president and CEO of the Outdoor Industry Association.
Studies have shown the economic impact of fishing, hunting and wildlife-watching activities to Colorado is $3 billion annually, supporting 33,800 full-time jobs in the state.
Mike Nussman, president and CEO of the American Sportfishing Association, said public lands are the source and home for some of the “last, best fisheries in the world.”
“Nationally, activities related to fishing support more than 1 million jobs and contribute almost $125 billion annually to the economy,” Nussman said. “If we want to improve our financial situation we should continue to invest in our open spaces.”
Doubling up for ducks: Since its inception in 1934, the Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (also known as the duck stamp) has generated more than $750 million, enough to add more than 5.3 million acres to the National Wildlife Refuge System.
However, the stamp’s $15 price hasn’t increased since 1991, resulting in a 64 percent decrease in buying power over that time.
This year, Ducks Unlimited and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department are encouraging anyone interested in the future of the North America’s waterfowl, and all the wildlife that depend on wetlands, to buy two stamps and help bring the stamp’s buying power up to today’s levels.
According to John Emmerich, deputy director of external affairs for the Wyoming agency, 98 cents of every dollar raised by the sale of duck stamps goes to acquire waterfowl habitat.
Ducks Unlimited currently is pushing for legislation to increase the stamp’s price to $25 to keep pace with inflation.
Federal duck stamps are available at post offices and many license agents.
And, in the spirit of the season, one of those can’t-miss Christmas presents is a Colorado state parks annual pass.
This year, an annual pass costs $70 ($60 for 64 and older; $14 for disabled Colorado residents) and yes, the prices have increased twice in as many years.
As anyone who regularly reads this space knows, the state Legislature has stopped funding state parks, a dubious move with serious implications for users and for the future of some under-performing state parks.
Many state parks lose money, and it’s only because a handful of parks, most notably those near major population centers along the Front Range, that more parks aren’t facing closure.
The options are to raise fees or close parks. Both options may be exercised when the merger is finalized between parks and wildlife.