Communities near Idaho landscapes managed by the Bureau of Land Management benefited in 2014 from millions of dollars in spending as the result of visitors who came to enjoy nonmotorized recreation such as hiking, hunting and camping, according to a new study by the independent firm ECONorthwest. Quiet Recreation on BLM Managed Lands: Economic Contribution is the first-ever study to focus entirely on the economic contribution of nonmotorized recreation visitors on these lands.
This study found that in 2014 there were 3.9 million quiet recreation visits to Idaho’s BLM lands alone. These visits generated $189 million in direct spending within 50 miles of the recreation sites. These dollars then circulated through the state economy, resulting in $56 million in employees’ salaries, wages and benefits. The study shows 2,368 Idaho jobs are supported locally as a result of quiet recreation visits to BLM lands.
"This study is significant because it is the first ever to quantify both the amount of quiet recreation and the spending associated with quiet recreation specifically on BLM lands," said ECONorthwest’s Kristin Lee, who led the research. "We found that the majority of visitors to BLM lands enjoyed non-motorized recreation; in the process, they spent $1.8 billion in the economies of local communities-which resulted in $2.8 billion of economic output at the national level." Lee continued, "This study shows that in addition to providing non-motorized recreational opportunities enjoyed by millions of people, these lands also provide local economic opportunities and contribute billions of dollars to the U.S. economy."
Researchers calculated the local economic contribution (jobs and income) generated by spending visitors who engaged in "quiet" recreation on BLM lands in 11 Western states-Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming and Alaska. They based their calculations on 2014 visitation data from the BLM and spending data from the National Visitor Use Monitoring program. The study was commissioned by The Pew Charitable Trusts. Other reports have examined the economic impact of nonmotorized recreation across the nation, but have not considered the contributions of visitors engaged in these activities on BLM lands alone.