Recently, Pew Charitable Trusts put together the first study examining the economic impact of quiet recreation across public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management in Western states – a study that until now, had never been put forth by any organization. And although all states involved in the study showed high levels of public interaction with public lands via non-motorized means, hence the “quiet” part of the recreation being studied, Colorado showed some of the highest levels of users and economic stimulus in this regard.
While this might not come as a surprise to anyone who has recently camped, biked, hiked, fished, backcountry skied, or partaken in a host of other “quiet” activities in Colorado, the results of the study serve as compelling reminders of how these activities affect the communities that help support them. The study examined visitation at Bureau of Land Management lands from 2014 in order to examine the user frequency and economic impact to publicly managed land in Colorado. A few of the more impressive statistics from the study that apply to quiet recreation in Colorado include 4.9 million visits to the state’s 8.4 million acres of public lands, and 3,412 jobs that are supported locally as a result of these visits. This translates monetarily as well. Pew cited $372 million in overall spending in relation to forms of quiet recreation in these areas, with $275 million of that spending directly relating on goods and services supporting these recreational pursuits within 50 miles of the area. Additionally, $113 million generated from these visits went to personal income of employees that work in some field that supports quiet recreation in Colorado’s publicly managed land.
Local conservation advocates are hoping that this trend continues statewide both via local visitors, and from outdoor enthusiasts travelling from other parts of the country to experience Colorado’s public lands.
“More and more people are coming from all over the US to explore and enjoy Colorado’s hidden gems,” said John Sztukowski of Wild Connections. “Colorado’s landscapes like Brown’s Canyon and Bighorn Sheep Canyon down river on the Arkansas, managed by the BLM, contains some of the very best places to enjoy backcountry hunting and camping in the state. This report backs up what we see in our nearby communities – the benefits of visitors, who spend time – and dollars – in restaurants, gas stations, and local shops.”
For more information on Pew Charitable Trust’s study on the impact of quiet recreation in the area, head to their website, which provides several fact sheets and analysis of the organization’s findings.