BLM lands in Colorado roar economically when they’re very quiet, says new report

Author: Joey Bunch - June 20, 2017 - Updated: June 21, 2017

BLM Public LandsLance Benzel of Colorado Springs climb over a rock slab Tuesday, April 29, 2014, while mountain biking the Oil Well Flats trail area north of Canon City. (Photo by Christian Murdock/The Gazette,)

Peace and quiet in Colorado’s great outdoors has a value all its own, according to a study released Tuesday by the independent economic analysts ECONorthwest.

In 2015, non-motorized recreation such as camping, hiking, climbing, hunting, mountain biking and rafting attracted 1.23 million visits to public lands from the mountains to the plains, generating $54.3 million in direct spending within 50 miles of the sites.

The report, called “Quiet Recreation on BLM-Managed Lands in Eastern Colorado,” cites 693 jobs supported by non-motorized use of  BLM Lands.

The full report is here.

Colorado Politics told you last month that BLM’s Royal Gorge Field Office is developing the Eastern Colorado Resource Management Plan to guided uses of the 658,000 acres of BLM-controlled land and 3.3 million acres of mineral rights on the eastern side of the state.

Luis Benitez, director of the state’s two-year-old Outdoor Recreation Industry Office, said Colorado tourism is about more than being the country’s top destination for overnight ski visits.

“In order to ensure that our rural communities continue to thrive we will promote a conservation ethic that elevates the connection between outdoor recreation and the economic and financial viability of communities and the state,” said Benitez, an Eagle County mountaineer and a trustee for the town of Eagle until he was appointed to his state job by Gov. John Hickenlooper.

David Leinweber, the owner and president of Colorado Springs-based Angler’s Covey and chairman of the Pikes Peak Outdoor Recreation Alliance, said in a statement that his customers depend on public lands.

“The easy access and close proximity of BLM lands is essential to our ability to engage in these activities and be a successful company,” he said. “This study is the latest evidence that outdoor recreation is not only a key reason why we call Colorado home but also fuels our local economies.”

In a separate study, using 2012 figures, the Outdoor Industry Association says recreation generates $13.2 billion in consumer spending statewide and $994 million in local, state and federal taxes each year.

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.

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