Hunting has major impact on area economy

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Hunting and fishing combined generated almost 4 percent of Moffat County's economy in 2002, according to a study sponsored by the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

The report conducted by BBC Research & Consulting of Denver, estimates that hunting and fishing contribute $26 million to Moffat County's economy. The impact in dollars was even greater in Routt County, where hunting and fishing generated $42 million in 2002, $23.5 million of it in direct sales.

Dave Hutton at Craig Sports estimates his business achieves 30 percent of its annual receipts during hunting season.

Hunters don't come to Craig to shop for big-ticket items -- they already have their rifles and ATV's. However, Craig Sports is set up to help hunters whose sights need repair, adjustment or replacement. The store realizes much of its hunting season business when the weather turns wintry overnight. Hutton said hunters come to him for gloves, hats, pocket warmers and well-insulated camouflage garments.

"We have good supplies in case that happens," he said.

Early October snowstorms help hunters by causing game to begin the migration to lower elevations, and by making the animals easier to track. Wintry weather also sends hunters scrambling back to town for tire chains, and perhaps even an unplanned night in a motel and several restaurant meals.

The BBC report concludes that hunting and fishing help to support more than 20,000 jobs in Colorado. In Moffat County hunting and fishing supported 350 jobs in 2002, and in Routt County, 560 jobs.

Statewide, hunting and fishing generated an estimated $1.5 billion for Colorado's economy in 2002, including $800 million in direct and $700 million in indirect revenues. Fishing actually has a greater impact on the economy than does hunting. The report gave credit to fishing for generating $460 million in direct revenues while hunting contributed $340 million.

Predictably, the fiscal impact of fishing and hunting was greatest in Colorado's rural counties. Nonresident hunters and anglers contributed an estimated 42 percent of total hunting and fishing revenues.

The economic impact report for fishing and hunting is the first of its kind in seven years. It was based on hunting and fishing license sales, DOW and other surveys, equipment sales, lodging information, and other direct and indirect expenditures associated with state wildlife-related activities.

The report also reflects the impact of hunting and fishing expenditures that turn over in local economies in the form of wages spent on other goods and services.

The DOW will use the data to assess how local economies are affected by wildlife-management policies and environmental conditions such as drought and wildfires.

Also factored in was "re-spending" by people employed in wildlife-related jobs. The DOW will use the data to assess how local economies are affected by wildlife-management policies and environmental conditions such as drought and wildfires. The agency will also tap into the information to tailor marketing efforts aimed at residents and nonresidents.

In addition, wildlife managers will study the report to determine how to improve data-gathering mechanisms used to assess the economic impacts of wildlife watching, fishing and hunting. n

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