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Report: "Quiet" Recreation Vital to SW Wyoming Economy

Buttes surrounding Whitehorse Creek Basin on BLM-managed lands in southwestern Wyoming rise as much as 650 feet above the basin floor. (Leslie Duncan)
Buttes surrounding Whitehorse Creek Basin on BLM-managed lands in southwestern Wyoming rise as much as 650 feet above the basin floor. (Leslie Duncan)
September 8, 2017

ROCK SPRINGS, Wyo. – Low-impact recreation on Wyoming public lands - such as camping, hiking, hunting and fishing - is a significant economic driver in surrounding communities. That's according to a new study by the independent firm ECONorthwest.

Report author Kristin Lee says in 2015, public lands in southwestern Wyoming managed by the BLM tallied 483,000 non-motorized recreation visits. And she says when visitors spend money on equipment, food, gas and lodging, it creates an economic ripple effect.

"And that translates into about 285 jobs, and over $12 million in income to folks that are engaged in providing support, and goods and services, to folks engaged in quiet recreation," she says.

The study, commissioned by The Pew Charitable Trusts, is the first of its kind to quantify the amount of so-called "quiet" recreation and spending on lands managed by the Rock Springs BLM field office. Lee adds non-motorized activities accounted for more than half of all visits, overshadowing motor-boating, snowmobiling, motorcycling and other off-road vehicle activities.

Dave Hanks, CEO of the Rock Springs Chamber of Commerce, says quiet sports bring a diverse revenue stream to the local economy. And he believes there's room for growth developing services and products to meet growing demand.

"It definitely does have impact," he says. "We're seeing, probably the biggest areas that we're seeing growth in that, would be in paddle-boarding, kayaking, and fly fishing. That segment is seeing its largest influx from female participants."

Hanks is hopeful that quiet and motorized recreation get equal priority in the management plans for the area. The study found of 3.2 million total visits to BLM lands in Wyoming, more than one in four of them were in the southwest corner of the state.

Support for this reporting was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - WY