Good news coming out of Washington for fly fishermen and all other outdoor enthusiasts.
Congress has passed bi-partisian legislation asking for increased data collection and tracking on outdoor recreation in the U.S. to help determine it’s significance in the US economy. The bill is called Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact (REC) Act of 2016, and still needs to signed off by President Barack Obama. Approval before the end of his term is expected.
The Outdoor Industry Association has been doing the leg work over the years to define the outdoor recreation economy. They estimate that Americans spend $646 billion on outdoor recreation each year. Here in Montana, thanks to $5.8 billion in consumer spending, outdoor recreation provides 64,000 jobs and $1.5 billion in wages and salaries that contributes $403 million to our state and local tax revenue.
For fly fishing it means they are going to take a closer look at revenue generated from fly shops, destination travel and outfitting. Being included in the GDP could potentially lead to increased spending and gives all of us a louder voice. There is a lot of uncertainty in our future when it comes to the protection of our outdoor playgrounds. Having better information to back up the economic importance that certain natural resources have on communities makes our argument for protection stronger and hopefully more influential on decision makers.
In the meantime, get out there and enjoy your local fisheries!