Study Finds “Quiet Recreation” Boosts Sweetwater County’s Economy


A new report detailing the economic contribution of recreation in southwestern Wyoming is just more evidence that “quiet” recreation is one of Wyoming’s fastest growing industries, local business owners say. “Quiet Recreation on BLM-Managed Lands in Southwest Wyoming” is the first report to quantify both the amount of quiet recreation and the spending associated with this recreation specifically on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands in this region of Wyoming.

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The study shows that activities like camping, hiking, hunting and fishing on public lands are a significant economic driver in communities near where the recreation activities take place. The report, conducted by independent firm ECONorthwest, found that in 2015 more than 483,000 quiet recreation visits to BLM lands in southwestern Wyoming generated $27.2 million in direct spending within 50 miles of the recreation sites. These dollars then circulated through the state economy, resulting in $12.4 million in employees’ salaries, wages and benefits. Two hundred and eighty five Wyoming jobs are supported locally as a result of quiet recreation visits to BLM land, according to the report.

“These findings mirror what we have seen in other BLM areas we’ve studied,” said ECONorthwest’s Kristin Lee, who led the research in Wyoming, and similar research in areas of California, Colorado, and Utah. “The study shows that quiet recreation is an economic force. These public lands provide recreational opportunities for hundreds of thousands of people, which directly translates to millions of dollars for the state’s economy. ”

Local business leaders echoed this sentiment. “Quiet recreation on public lands is a growing and integral economic component of Wyoming’s tourism industry, our second leading industry in terms of economic impact,” said Dave Hanks, CEO of the Rock Springs Chamber of Commerce. “Quiet sports can provide a more diverse revenue stream to the local economy when services and products are developed to meet this growing demand.  We need to embrace all activity from a multiple use standpoint when considering the scope of public land management in Western Wyoming.”

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“As a hotel owner, Senator, and past member of both the Wyoming State Tourism Board and local Sweetwater County Tourism Board, I recognize the lift and diversification tourism offers our state. Quality quiet recreation is critical to the travel and tourism industry and are becoming more important components for Wyoming’s ability to recruit new businesses, create jobs and sustain enjoyable lifestyles for the people of Wyoming,” said Liisa Anselmi-Dalton, a Wyoming native and owner-operator of three hotels in Rock Springs. “Sweetwater County is lucky to have trophy fishing opportunities, beautiful rock formations and hiking trails, clear skies for star enthusiasts, historic trails for history buffs and herds of wild horses, antelope, and elk for photography and nature enthusiasts,” she continued.

Researchers from ECONorthwest calculated the local economic contribution (jobs and income) generated by visitors engaging in “quiet recreation” on BLM lands managed by the Rock Springs Field Office based on 2015 visitation data from the BLM and spending data from the National Visitor Use Monitoring program. The study was commissioned by The Pew Charitable Trusts.