Middle River Dispatches is a gumbo of posts about fly-fishing, conservation, politics and days afield.

What’s Wrong with Outdoor Recreation Jobs?

Tom Wharton of the The Salt Lake Tribune recently asked, “When was the last time a Utah politician has done anything to help the state’s tourism and outdoor recreation industry?”

Fishing on the Green River

Readers know that I am a strong subscriber to the habitat = opportunity = economic activity equation (didn’t know that? click here).  The outdoor recreation economy is a bright light in these troubled economic times not just in Utah but across the country, yet as Wharton aptly notes:

“It almost seems as though the money generated by tourism and outdoor recreation doesn’t matter or that our politicians view the jobs these industries create as not worthy of support. This attitude could have a negative impact on our state economy.”

Wharton points to figures from the Utah Tourism Industry Coalition that show tourism is a $6.23 billion industry in Utah which created 110,000 jobs and reduced, yup you read that correctly, reduced taxes for Utah household by $703.

According to the Outdoor Industry Foundation, outdoor activities like fishing, paddling, camping, hunting, climbing, hiking, backcountry skiing, mountain biking, and wildlife viewing contribute a total of $730 billion annually to the economy, supporting 6.5 million jobs (1 of every 20 jobs in the U.S.) and stimulating 8% of all consumer spending.

Outdoor recreation creates sustainable jobs and long term societal benefits for our nation, yet our elected officials seem tone deaf to this economic reality.

Check out Wharton’s column (click here).


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