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NEWS: Hunters and Anglers Inject Millions into Economy in Albany County, Wyo

Nov. 1, 2016

Wyoming Wildlife Federation
Contact: Chamois Andersen
(307) 438-1724

Hunters and Anglers Inject Millions into Economy in Albany County, Wyo

The Wyoming Wildlife Federation (WWF) released a new University of Wyoming (UW) report on the economic impact of hunting and fishing in Albany County, Wyoming.  Access to public and private lands in Albany County for hunting and fishing resulted in spending of more than $25 million in 2015.  The study, which is available on WWF’s website, will be provided to the Wyoming Board of Land Commissioners for their consideration of a major land swap for Albany and Crook counties, called the Bonander Ranches Exchange. WWF and the Wyoming Sportsmen’s Alliance oppose this land exchange.

“State land managers and politicians need to give better attention to the important economic contributions and tourism dollars generated by access to these lands, as well as to the value these lands provide when it comes to our quality of life,” says Chamois Andersen, executive director of the Wyoming Wildlife Federation.

With such land swaps in Wyoming, the Office of State Lands considers the “income generating potential,” which in the case of the Bonander land exchange is grazing and potentially timber sales on the land proposed for the swap in Crook County. “We would lose on the land swap in Albany County when it comes to public access for our outdoor recreation,” says Andersen. “We think the Board of Land Commissioners needs to give better consideration to other economic impacts, as this study shows, the millions of dollars generated by hunters and anglers who come to Albany County to hunt and fish on these lands,” Andersen says.

The Albany County study was conducted by Tex Taylor, an extension economist with UW’s Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, in response to a request from the WWF. Taylor’s research revealed that hunters spent an estimated $11 million in Albany County and anglers spent another $14.3 million in 2015 alone. In addition, nearly 30,000 fishing licenses were sold in the county that same year.

If approved, this transaction would result in the closure of upwards of 6,400 acres of national forest lands and 1,600 acres of state-owned lands. These lands provide prime hunting and fishing and are also highly valued by other outdoor enthusiasts.

The State Land Board is expected to vote on this land exchange at its meeting on Dec. 1 in Cheyenne. WWF provided testimony in opposition to the Bonander land exchange at a public meeting hosted by the Office of State Lands and Investments on September 26 in Laramie.

Taylor says hunting and fishing helps support the local economy because much of the $25.3 million of spending by hunters and anglers occurs within the Albany County economy.  “Those dollars that are spent locally also generate secondary impacts in various other support sectors within the local economy,” Taylor says.

The UW study involved measuring recreational use and expenditures associated with that use in the county. The recreational use for hunting was based on hunter-day estimates from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s 2015 Annual Harvest Reports by Hunt Area (publically available data via the agency’s website).  These values were adjusted for inflation to 2015 dollars.  Harvest reports are available for the following species:  Antelope, Bighorn Sheep, Bison, Black Bear, Deer, Elk, Moose, and Mountain Goat.

It is estimated that there were nearly 59,000 Big Game and Trophy Game hunting days in Albany County in 2015. These hunter-days generated spending of $11 million, based on USFWS expenditure estimates for Wyoming, adjusted to 2015 dollars.

Fishing license sales data indicated that nearly 30,000 fishing licenses were sold in Albany County in 2015, resulting in 113,000 angler-days and an estimated $14.3 million in economic expenditures. Recreational use for fishing was based on the Game and Fish Department’s 2015 data on fishing licenses sold in Albany County.

The Albany County Commissioners on October 4th unanimously passed a resolution against the Bonander Land Exchange, which noted that the exchange is contrary to the county’s comprehensive plan, which prioritizes public lands access and land management in the county.

Ultimately, this land exchange would create an indirect loss of public access to more than 8,000 acres of land in the Laramie Range, affecting both hunting opportunities and wildlife management.

In Wyoming, more than $1 billion per year is spent by hunters and anglers and watchable wildlife enthusiasts – $750 million from hunters and anglers, and $350 million from watchable wildlife watchers.

For additional information as well as links to other UW economic impact studies per county, log on to https://wyomingwildlife.org/public-lands/wpli/economic-impact/.