October 1, 2018

Study: Visitors to NM’s outdoors generate an economic windfall

BLM New Mexico

Rio Chama, Old Spanish Trail.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The recreational opportunities for hunting, angling and wildlife-watching on Bureau of Land Management lands in New Mexico are matched only by their economic benefits, according to a new study.

The research to determine spending on wildlife-related recreation tells the New Mexico story – millions in salaries and wages, products and services sold, and state, local and federal tax revenues. Todd Leahy, acting educational director with the New Mexico Wildlife Federation, says wildlife-related activities are an equal or greater economic driver than many other industries.

“This is huge,” says Leahy. “I would venture that sportsmen don’t even know these numbers – $24 million in wages? Like, we sportsmen don’t actually recognize and realize the contribution that we have on the economy, and this is just BLM land.”

The report, released by The Pew Charitable Trusts and multiple sportmen’s groups, shows wildlife-related recreation in 12 Western states resulted in more than $3 billion in total economic output. In addition to salaries and wages, wildlife-related product sales generate $84 million a year for New Mexico.

Rob Southwick, president of Southwick Associates – which did the research, says the huge number of visitors to BLM lands for hunting, fishing and wildlife-watching demonstrates that public lands are good for businesses and local communities alike. He says that should be a significant factor for decision-makers debating the future of BLM lands.

“I just want to emphasize that fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing are industries that deserve the same amount of attention as any other important industry in the United States,” says Southwick.

About 34 million visitors a year come to New Mexico, to such places as Bandelier, White Sands, Carlsbad Caverns, Chaco Canyon and the state’s national monuments. Leahy says it’s an example of the importance of public lands.

“So this is just places like Rio Grande del Norte and Organ Mountains, our two new national monuments, providing this amazing economic benefit and economic driver,” says Leahy.

The report says the 246 million acres managed by the BLM in the 12 Western states studied support more than 26,000 jobs.

Support for this reporting was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts.