What is the real value of Utah recreation? Well, it’s a hell of a lot more than what some Utah legislators would have you believe.
In fact, if you listen to Congressman Rob Bishop or state Rep. Howard Noel, Utah residents can only benefit from Utah’s federal public lands if they develop them into oblivion.
As I’ve mentioned in one of my other blog posts, Utah Land Heist , Bishop and Senator Orrin Hatch have introduced legislation that would allow western states to pick 5% of the BLM and US Forest Service land in their borders. No matter where it was!!!
Sure the economy sucks. Certainly unemployment is at levels seen only once in our history. But anyone who has lived in an area where the economy relied on producing energy from fossil remains ... perhaps not true in the province of Alberta in my home country of Canada ... knows that these returns are reliant on the booms and busts of the economic cycle.
And the malinvestment that results!
But don’t make the mistake of over-valuing the potential of resource development. If you look at the revenue produced by visitors to Utah ... to the state’s national parks, monuments, forests, and mountains ... you’d probably change that opinion.
A recent Department of Interior report shows that Utah benefits more than any other state from tourism and recreation on the so-called federal lands!
Last year ... 2010 ... more than 21 million people visited Utah. To play. Ski. See wildlife. Take photos. Hike. Camp. See our unbelievable scenery. And they spent more than $1.7 billion.
Utah recreation ... on federal lands only ... employed 20,319 people throughout the state. And 15,000 of them in rural areas. Now remember, we were in a recession. Still are.
The outdoor recreation industry in Utah sustains 65,000 jobs. And creates almost $4 billion in retail sales and services. The tax bill? $300 million in yearly state tax revenues. In fact, the Outdoor Retailer tradeshow held in Salt Lake City each year ... and now lost to Colorado ... generates $40 million alone!
And this revenue comes in each year ... without fail ... as long as the reasons for those people to come here still exist. As for the mining and drilling. They’re always subject to the booms and busts of the energy pricing cycle. And for what price?
No matter what your personal political preferences. Or your knowledge of economics ... Miseian, Keynesian, or the latest version of socialism.
Once you’ve visited, played in, and lived in these lands, I guarantee that your view of whether or not these lands should be protected will be deeply affected.