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Wildlife Recreation Nets $3 Billion for Colorado's Economy

Warren Brown Photography
Creative Commons

As big game hunting seasons come to an end this year in Colorado, a new report finds that hunting and fishing are as vital to the state’s tourism economy as skiing.

Colorado is a popular destination for hunters in particular, with the state issuing more licenses than any other for big game, including elk. The state Division of Parks and Wildlife says big game hunting nets more than $400 million annually.

Add in small game hunting, fishing and wildlife watching, and the impact is about $3 billion for Colorado’s economy every year.

The economic benefit goes beyond just revenue, says Parks and Wildlife spokesman Randy Hampton.

“When you take that $3 billion impact and say, ‘What does that mean in these communities?’ – it means jobs,” Hampton says. “It means 21,000 jobs in Colorado’s economy that are supported solely by hunting, fishing and wildlife.”

Those jobs include hunting guides and outfitters, as well as businesses such as grocery stores and gas stations. And while only a handful of counties benefit from activities such as skiing, wildlife recreation benefits all of Colorado’s 64 counties to varying degrees.

Hampton adds that more than two-thirds of Parks and Wildlife's revenue comes from sales of hunting and fishing licenses. Without hunting, the state wouldn't have the money needed to manage the more than 900 species of wildlife found here.

Want to enjoy wildlife viewing but prefer to stay in your car? Check out this list of car-friendly destinations.

As the host of KUNC’s new program and podcast In the NoCo, I work closely with our producers and reporters to bring context and diverse perspectives to the important issues of the day. Northern Colorado is such a diverse and growing region, brimming with history, culture, music, education, civic engagement, and amazing outdoor recreation. I love finding the stories and voices that reflect what makes NoCo such an extraordinary place to live.
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