Outdoor businesses urge stronger stance on public lands
Business owners say sportsmen and women are critical to the economy in letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell
Business owners who cater to sportsmen delivered a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell urging her to take a strong stance on maintaining healthy populations of fish and wildlife on public lands - lands on which their businesses rely heavily.
Representatives of 50 different outdoor-oriented businesses and Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development (SFRED) wrote the letter to Jewell to request that she support balance between outdoor recreation and energy development on public lands.
"Public lands are a huge driver for outdoor-related business in this country, and it’s imperative that we care for them with the same ferocity that we apply to any other multi-billion dollar business," said Tim Romano, of Angling Trade. "As a group, we support millions of jobs, generate billions of dollars and help maintain strong economies for rural communities. Public lands are at the core of that success. We absolutely must commit to keeping those herds, those fisheries, in the best condition we possibly can. That starts with good policy."
Hunting and fishing in America is a big business, generating more than $90 billion in economic activity in 2011 and supporting more than 1.5 million jobs (Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation and National Shooting Sports Foundation) in the United States. That expenditure would rank them 24th on the Fortune 500 list, ahead of companies such as Kroger and Costco.
Signers of the letter requested stronger leadership from Jewell, especially on energy policy, highlighting issues such as the reforms that were announced in 2010.
"In 2010, sweeping changes to how the nation pursues public lands energy development were announced. Now, years later, we still are awaiting their full implementation," said Ed Arnett, director of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership’s Center for Responsible Energy Development. "Master lease plans, which can help minimize impacts and conflicts resulting from poorly planned oil and gas projects, will help balance energy development with the needs of fish and wildlife. That’s good for businesses that depend on the sportsmen who pursue their passions in areas with valuable habitat."
Also at stake are funds that could be reinvested back into public lands from a rise in renewable energy development.
"It’s not just traditional forms of energy that we need to think about. There is a huge growth potential for wind and solar development on public lands, but with that growth comes impacts," said Corey Fisher, energy team lead for Trout Unlimited. "Bills like the Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act ensure a portion of the revenues from this development will be reinvested in habitat conservation, and that’s good for outdoor-based business. It helps secure both our country’s energy future and our public lands hunting and fishing heritage."
Securing that future is vital to the outdoor economy. Each sportsman and woman spends an average of $2,407 per year. In 2011, 47.7 million people hunted or fished in America. That’s more than the populations of the states of California, Wyoming, North Dakota, Alaska, Montana, Idaho, New Mexico and Nevada combined, and the numbers are rising.
"More than three decades ago, our nation chose to forever hold the federal lands and their natural resources and wonders in public ownership for the benefit of all Americans," said Kate Zimmerman, the National Wildlife Federation’s public lands policy directory. "If we’re smart enough to keep this promise made to future generations, our country will reap the rewards for decades to come."
Read the letter: http://www.ourpubliclands.org/sites/default/files/files/SFRED-Jewell-business-letter-April2014.pdf