Business Leaders Urge BLM to Protect California Lands

Over a Hundred Local Business Owners and Community Leaders Urge the California Bureau of Land Management to Protect Unique Lands that Support Quiet Recreation and Local Economies

Photo credit Bob Wick, BLM.

Business owners across northwest California this week submitted a letter with 101 signatures to the Redding and Arcata field offices of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) urging the agency to protect unique public lands that are important for locals and visitors alike as they update their Resource Management Plans. 
 The letter cited a report from the Outdoor Industry Association that California generates $85.4 billion in outdoor recreation consumer spending, which is more than any other state in the country. Millions of people visit California every year to experience the great outdoors. These tourists play a critical role in supporting local economies. 
 “In this region, the BLM manages lands from the North Coast to the Central Valley and the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. These lands include isolated redwood groves, oak woodlands, pristine rivers and streams, and are home to bald eagles, marbled murrelet, western snowy plover, salmon and steelhead, and sandhill cranes,” the letter states. “We as business and community leaders experience this economic benefit first-hand by locals and tourists alike buying gear, purchasing local products, frequenting our restaurants, visiting our towns and countless other positive impacts on our local economies. We are asking you to protect these places because we value them personally and because we see the direct local economic benefit to our communities.”

The letter comes as a new report released last month by the firm ECONorthwest highlighted the important economic driver of BLM lands to local economies. The report titled Quiet Recreation on BLM-Managed Lands in Northwest California shows that in 2015 the just over 1 million quiet recreation visits to Northern California’s BLM lands generated $41.2 million in direct spending within 50 miles of the recreation sites. In the report, quiet recreation is defined as activities such as hiking, camping, hunting, fishing, mountain biking, and wildlife viewing. These dollars then circulated through the state economy, resulting in $50.2 million in employees’ salaries, wages and benefits. The study shows 570 California jobs are supported locally as a result of quiet recreation visits to BLM Land.

“We have owned Pullins Cyclery for 33 years,” said Steve O’Bryan of Chico, “and have experienced first-hand how the BLM’s management for recreational uses throughout the region benefits our local businesses. People stop in Chico on their way to recreational areas in Northern California, such as canoe camping the Sacramento River Bend Area, or backpacking and exploring the Ishi Wilderness. They stop by Chico to shop, get that last little adjustment on their bike and visit one of our great restaurants for a bite to eat. Having beautiful recreation areas are not only healthy for our communities, it supports shops like mine that are helping get people out there to enjoy these areas.”

Martin Swett, Senior Loan Consultant with Summit Funding in Eureka, sees how the quiet recreation economy plays out on a regional scale, “In my work, I see people who come to this beautiful area to explore places like those that the BLM manages, and many of them then want to buy a home here. So, not only does our economy benefit from recreationists eating in our restaurants and staying in our hotels, but they also actually purchase homes and continue to contribute locally and explore these places. I personally have always loved exploring Ma-le’l Dunes.”

The business support letter was delivered to the BLM earlier this week and business owners are hopeful that BLM will take notice as they update their land management plan for 396,000 acres of public land in Northern California. Parts of that vast acreage stretch across Butte, Tehama, Shasta, Siskiyou, Trinity, Del Norte, Humboldt, and Mendocino Counties.

“We know it is critical that the final [BLM] plan strike a balance among many of the uses of public lands, including development and recreation,” the business leaders state at the end of the letter. “As you work to achieve this balance, we urge you to please take all appropriate measures to conserve the relatively few places that remain in a pristine condition — for our future, for our children, and for our local economies.”

Read the full text of the letter below: