Newspaper article Roll Call

Healthy Public Lands Mean Healthy Economies

Newspaper article Roll Call

Healthy Public Lands Mean Healthy Economies

Article excerpt

As the owner of a successful outdoor business, one of many such businesses in this country, I've become puzzled over how Congress debates public lands issues. Often the care for these resources is pitted up against "strong economies" and "more jobs", implying support for one means denying the other. This is a false choice. Outdoor businesses show that healthy public lands create and sustain strong rural economies and viable jobs. As we pursue other economic activities like energy development on public lands we must make sure we balance those uses with the conservation of fish and wildlife habitat so that our outdoor economy will thrive.

We as sportsmen and sportswomen are the drivers of important industry. Hunting and fishing in America generated more than $90 billion in economic activity in 2011 and supported more than 1.5 million jobs, according to the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation and National Shooting Sports Foundation. If we were to rank the industry as we rank other businesses, it would be 24th on the Fortune 500 list, ahead of companies such as Kroger and Costco.

Think about that for a moment.

It should be no surprise that when it comes to policy, our stake in public lands is second to none. After all, without access to healthy public lands, we don't have an industry.

Each sportsman and woman spends an average of $2,407 per year. In 2011, 47.7 million people hunted or fished in America. That's more than the population of California, Wyoming, North Dakota, Alaska, Montana, Idaho, New Mexico and Nevada combined (and the numbers are rising). In 2011, the number of hunters increased by 9 percent and anglers by 11 percent, demonstrating that the economic benefits of hunting and fishing will continue as long as our lands and waters remain healthy enough to support abundant fish and wildlife and quality outdoor experiences.

Moreover, public lands are a big part of the sporting and outdoor recreation economy. Fiscal 2010 saw more than 58 million visitors to lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management, with a resulting benefit of $7. …

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