Where Outdoor Recreation Ranks in Pennsylvania’s Economy
New research finds that hunting, fishing, biking, camping, and other activities drive $27 billion in statewide spending
A new economic study finds that outdoor recreation in Pennsylvania, including hunting and fishing, generated $26.9 billion in 2016—that’s $2.2 billion more than the construction industry. The state’s wealth of natural resources and rich outdoor traditions also supported more than 390,000 jobs, where Pennsylvanians earned $17 billion in salaries and wages.
The research, conducted by Southwick Associates for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, showed that 780,000 state residents hunted and 1.3 million went fishing in 2016. This group spent nearly $1.3 billion to pursue their passions, supporting nearly 20,000 jobs, $800 million in salaries and wages, and more than $300 million in local, state, and federal tax revenue.
Additionally, 370,000 jobs in Pennsylvania were supported by other outdoor recreation activities, including biking, camping, and off-roading.
“Economic activity generated by outdoor recreation is too powerful to ignore,” says Derek Eberly, Pennsylvania field representative for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “That’s why our local, state, and federal decision-makers should prioritize legislation that helps conserve the fish and wildlife resources that outdoor recreation businesses rely on to employ and serve Pennsylvanians.”
The Growing Greener program is a good example. This important state program helps to preserve open spaces, improve working lands, and clean up abandoned mines that could endanger habitat. But the program has seen drastic budget cuts in recent years, from a budget of roughly $200 million per year in the mid-2000s to less than $60 million this year.
The TRCP and other groups plan to advocate for better investments in conservation through increased funding for this program and others in the state.
We Make Time for the Outdoors, So Why Not for Conservation?
The TRCP is joining forces with REI to urge you to #OptOutside on Black Friday—and get more involved every day in the conservation issues that matter
As we prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, we’re proud to link arms once again with our friends at REI—and hundreds of global brands—to urge hunters and anglers to #OptOutside.
This year’s theme is about breaking our routines and finding time to spend in the outdoors. And this resonates with many of us, even if, as hunters and anglers, we probably go outside more than the average American. No matter how many days you log in the woods or on the water, don’t you feel the tug of your smartphone screen or the ping of a busy schedule?
It never hurts to slow down, shut our devices off, and head down the trail to where true adventure is within our reach—even if we may be unreachable for a few hours. But making time to enjoy the outdoors (and derive the cortisol-lowering benefits of testing ourselves in the pursuit of game and fish) is only meeting half the need.
It’s also critical that we prioritize taking action to safeguard our outdoor recreation opportunities for the next generation.
Engaging in the fight for well-managed public lands, cleaner water, better habitat, more funding for conservation, and stronger outdoor recreation businesses looks different for everyone. You might donate to an organization you trust. (After all, Giving Tuesday is coming up—hint hint.) You might sign a petition, attend a workday, or share an article on social media that taught you something about conservation, hoping others will learn from it, too.
But how many times has something like this happened: You get an email about an upcoming meeting hosted by your local BLM field office to collect public comments on a proposed plan for managing public lands in your area. As someone who cares about the fish and wildlife resources and hunting and fishing opportunities on these lands, the stakes are pretty high for you, and your opinion carries a lot of weight in this public process. But the meeting is on a weekday night and you’re not sure you understand all the issues. You delete the email.
Or this: You’re scrolling through your Instagram feed and see a call to action about the lapsed Farm Bill. A conservation organization you trust says that we lose out every day we go without the programs that help farmers improve habitat and walk-in access for hunting and fishing, and it’s imperative that we pressure Congress to take urgent action. You click the link in their bio, but then a stream of text messages come in that you need to respond to, and before you know it, you’re late to drop the kids off somewhere.
Getting more involved in conservation isn’t always convenient, especially when it’s all we can do to carve out time to actually use our hunting and fishing licenses or the access we worked hard to secure with a landowner’s permission. Still, the routine we may need to break is the one where we tell ourselves, “I’ll do it later,” “This is not my fight,” or worse, “Someone else will do it.”
It’s up to all of us to find the time and energy to dedicate ourselves to the conservation issues that will determine whether or not our children and grandchildren have quality places to hunt and fish. We must sign up, step up, and speak out for more responsible management of public lands, stronger habitat and access incentives for private landowners, and the best possible clean water standards and conservation funding levels.
As REI reminds us, #OptOutside is about more than a company making a bold move on Black Friday. It’s about inspiring a movement.
So find the time. Stretch your legs and your mind. Replenish your soul in the outdoors. Then, when you finally head back to your screens and social networks, do whatever you can, whenever you can, to support conservation.
The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership was created to bring together nonprofit partners, individual hunters and anglers, and outdoor recreation businesses to rally behind common conservation policy goals. Here’s why we do what we do—and how you can help.
“Chronic wasting disease has negatively affected white-tailed and mule deer in Wyoming for decades,” says Sen. Barrasso. “To protect our wildlife populations and our hunters, we need to know more about how this disease is spread and which areas are most at risk. Our bill gives wildlife managers the tools they need to research and identify exactly where chronic wasting disease is most prominent and how we can better prevent it. It’s a critical first step to addressing this debilitating disease and keeping our wildlife herds healthy.”
The bill directs the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a study on how CWD is transmitted in wild, captive, and farmed deer in the United States. The goal would be to identify all factors that contribute to the spread of the disease and hone in on where deeper research is needed. The bill also calls for a review of the best practices and standards for managing CWD in both captive and wild deer, to result in a report of findings and recommendations.
“We strongly support this important legislation, which, if passed, would aid to combat a serious wildlife health issue,” says Ed Carter, president of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and executive director of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. “Chronic wasting disease may be one of the biggest challenges in modern wildlife conservation history, and it will take funding for the best possible science, and many other efforts, to respond swiftly and appropriately.”
The rampant spread of CWD could have a major impact on the future of deer hunting and funding for wildlife habitat conservation. More than 80 percent of the hunting public participates in deer hunting and contributes more money to conservation funding than any other type of outdoor enthusiast through the purchase of licenses and gear.
“We applaud the sponsors of this bill for recognizing that CWD is the most significant wildlife disease issue in more than 100 years,” says Brian Murphy, CEO of the Quality Deer Management Association. “It is an imminent threat to our wild deer herds, which help generate $39.5 billion in economic impact from hunters annually, supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs and serving as the backbone for conservation funding in the United States. These deer also, quite literally, provide nearly one billion wholesome meals to Americans each year. The spread of this disease must be stopped.”
Currently, testing for CWD can take time because of the limited number of laboratory facilities across the country, and there are significant cumulative costs for state fish and wildlife agencies. The Center for Disease Control does not recommend eating venison from CWD-positive deer.
“Clearly a concern about deer being safe to eat has a negative impact on new hunter recruitment, as well as the retention of existing deer hunters,” says Nick Pinizzotto, president and CEO of the National Deer Alliance. “Many new deer hunters became attracted to the sport due to a desire to collect their own safe and organic food, and now that premise is being threatened by this horrible disease. This important bill will help get us the answers we need.”
Water Resources Bill Goes to Trump with Big Win for Everglades Restoration
Water infrastructure package with benefits for fish, wildlife, and the outdoor recreation economy heads to president’s desk with bipartisan support
Today, in a 99-1 vote, senators acted overwhelmingly in support of water resources and sent landmark legislation to the president’s desk that would expedite restoration efforts in the Everglades. The “America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018” (S. 3021) also takes important steps to advance nature-based infrastructure solutions—like restoring wetlands and dunes to reduce flood and storm damage—that are more cost-effective for the American taxpayer.
The House passed the bill unanimously last month.
“This is the biggest step forward for natural infrastructure that we’ve seen this Congress, and it builds on recent momentum to restore critical habitat and water quality in the Everglades,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “American sportsmen and women should be heartened to see this level of bipartisanship for conservation, especially at a moment in the political calendar when both sides typically retreat to their own corners. We appreciate the leadership of Sen. Barrasso, Sen. Carper, Rep. Shuster, and Rep. DeFazio.”
The legislation advances two critical projects that will improve clean water flows throughout South Florida and supports the development of technologies to reduce harmful algal blooms that infamously killed fish across the state this summer. It will also provide for more advanced research on preventing the spread of invasive species like Asian carp and zebra mussels, whose growing populations threaten many popular fishing destinations.
“Today is a great day for America’s Everglades and the people of Florida. Construction can now begin on a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee that is vital to reconnecting the lake to the Florida Keys. The economic benefits of this project cannot be overstated, as Florida’s economy depends on clean water, thriving fisheries and a robust real estate market,” says Eric Eikenberg, CEO of the Everglades Foundation.
Indeed, improving habitat and supporting predictable fishing opportunities will benefit Florida’s $2.9-billion recreational fishing industry.
“Passage of America’s Water Infrastructure Act is a monumental step in restoring the Everglades and providing clean water for Florida’s fisheries. This legislation is crucial to reducing the ongoing estuary discharges and algal blooms affecting the state, and we greatly appreciate the leadership of Florida’s Congressional Delegation in securing its passage. We look forward to working with Congress to ensure that sufficient funding is available to carry out the Act’s provisions,” says Kellie Ralston, Southeast Fisheries Policy Director of the American Sportfishing Association.
The bill also greenlights a feasibility study for habitat restoration projects in the Lower Mississippi River region. These projects could produce multiple benefits for fish and wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation opportunities across six states.
Another important provision of this legislation will help to give higher priority to natural and nature-based infrastructure solutions that reduce storm risks, enhance public safety, and conserve fish and wildlife habitat near Army Corps of Engineers project sites. Lawmakers supported requiring the Government Accountability Office to examine the costs and benefits that the Corps considers when authorizing projects. The current process likely underestimates the long-term cost savings of natural infrastructure projects, and bringing greater transparency to project deliberations is a positive step toward righting this imbalance.
As our nation rebounds from the COVID pandemic, policymakers are considering significant investments in infrastructure. Hunters and anglers see this as an opportunity to create conservation jobs, restore habitat, and boost fish and wildlife populations.