Outdoor Recreation Industry Leaders Laud Report Citing Positive Impacts of Quiet Recreation on Colorado’s Economy

Viewing Eastern Colorado’s Cucharas Canyon from a NW overlook. Credit John Sztukowski.

Leaders in the outdoor recreation community lauded a new report about the economic contribution that quiet recreation has on Colorado’s economy. Non-motorized (quiet) recreation activities like camping, hiking, climbing, hunting, mountain biking and rafting on public lands are a significant economic driver in local communities near where the recreation activities take place according to a new study by the independent firm ECONorthwest.

“The fact that 1.23 million non-motorized visits are taken to Eastern Colorado’s BLM lands per year is testament to the economic benefit these lands provide.”

The report titled “Quiet Recreation on BLM-Managed Lands in Eastern Colorado shows that in 2015 the 1.23 million quiet recreation visits to Eastern Colorado’s BLM lands generated $54.3 million in direct spending within 50 miles of the recreation sites. These dollars then circulated through the state economy, resulting in $40.1 million in employees’ salaries, wages and benefits. The study shows 693 Colorado jobs are supported locally as a result of quiet recreation visits to BLM Land.

The report comes as the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is developing a draft resource management plan for the Eastern Colorado Region. The BLM’s Royal Gorge Field Office in Eastern Colorado oversees some 658,000 acres of public land. This report is the first ever to quantify both the amount of quiet recreation and the spending associated with quiet recreation specifically on BLM lands in this region of Colorado. Outdoor industry leaders have taken notice and are emphasizing the importance of striking the right balance within the resource management plan when it comes to quiet recreation.

Fishing in Eastern Colorado. Credit Reed Dils.

“We value recreation in our state. Colorado may be most commonly recognized as being the #1 destination in the nation for overnight ski visits. However, 1.23 million visits a year for quiet recreation on Eastern Colorado’s BLM lands is not surprising as residents and tourists are taking advantage of the region’s unparalleled opportunities for camping, hiking, climbing, hunting, biking and rafting. In order to ensure that our rural communities continue to thrive we will promote a conservation ethic that elevates the connection between outdoor recreation and the economic and financial viability of communities and the state.” said Luis Benitez, Director of Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office. He joined a conference call on June 20 to discuss the impacts of quiet recreation to Colorado’s economy.

“The fact that 1.23 million non-motorized visits are taken to Eastern Colorado’s BLM lands per year is testament to the economic benefit these lands provide” said David Leinweber, Owner / President, Angler’s Covey Inc. and Chairman of the Pikes Peak Outdoor Recreation Alliance. “Our customers and employees are active outdoors people. They fish, hike and hunt on our public lands. The easy access and close proximity of BLM lands is essential to our ability to engage in these activities and be a successful company. This study is the latest evidence that outdoor recreation is not only a key reason why we call Colorado home but also fuels our local economies.”

Researchers calculated the local economic contribution (jobs and income) generated by spending visitors who engaged in “quiet” recreation on BLM lands in the Royal Gorge Field Office. They based their calculations on 2015 visitation data from the BLM and spending data from the National Visitor Use Monitoring program. The study was commissioned by The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Hiking out of Hindman Gulch in Eastern Colorado. Credit Curt Nimz.
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