At a meeting of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, comprised of lawmakers from around the nation, a topic of discussion was the economic value of outdoor recreation, conservation and historical preservation. The prime focus of the gathering was on making sure the nation’s laws support hunters and anglers as much possible, but the topic shifted gears when another bit of information was presented.
According to a study conducted by Southwick Associates for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, outdoor recreation, when combined with historic preservation, supports 9.4 million jobs nationally each year. That translates to more than $1 trillion in economic impact annually.
The study determined, among other things, that outdoor sports, which includes hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing, hiking, camping, skiing, paddle sports and bicycling, generated $99 billion in federal and state tax revenues and supported $9.5 billion in annual retail sales. This study quickly became a valuable tool for supporting the benefits of outdoor recreation in general.
Former U.S. Congressman and chairman of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation Lindsay Thomas added: “Sportsmen put billions of dollars of their own money annually into conservation through licenses they buy and the taxes they pay on hunting and fishing equipment”.
Combined with other taxes that are paid through activities associated with outdoor recreation and historic preservation the total income gained comes to around over $100 billion annually that contributes to state and federal treasuries.
That’s not to be taken lightly in these times when businesses are failing and the unemployment rate is hovering around 8.5 percent.
The study is also being used by a group known as America’s Voice for Conservation, Recreation and Preservation, a coalition of organizations lobbying for conservation funding.
Approximately 1,000 groups and businesses have formed under The America’s Voice for Conservation, Recreation and Preservation coalition umbrella. The mega-group includes the TRCP, The Wilderness Society, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, Boone and Crockett Club, Trout Unlimited and the Sierra Club to name a few.
Groups that typically don’t work together, such as wildlife enthusiasts who enjoy seeing it or hunting it, and both in some cases are joining with conservation groups as a single solid voice. It is a wonder why conservation groups often seem reluctant to team up with similar organizations for the good of the overall cause. Collective noise is hard to ignore.
Sure, it happens from time to time on single projects. Groups will get together for a land purchase, a project or a lawsuit, but then soon distance themselves from any political ties, real or perceived, that the others are linked with. This project, however, is supported by more groups with initials than the graffiti on the side of a vacant factory building.
So, do you think people ever realized that just getting out there and having fun, pursuing their favorite pastimes, was providing a valuable contribution to our country’s economic situation? Don’t dwell on it, just get out there and do it!