In the current political climate it’s fashionable (on both sides of the aisle) to cut programs and legislation that “doesn’t pay its way.” Not surprisingly, conservation and environmental programs and legislation are currently under attack because we “can’t afford it any more.” But what if, as many of us have been arguing for years, not only can good conservation and environmental programs pay their way, they also pump money into the economy even in the depths of a recession?

That’s the gist of a recent economic study from the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks department that revealed hunting and fishing activity along the front range of the Rocky Mountains is a remarkably recession-proof activity and an important regional economic engine. And that’s a very good reason, argues one sportsmans’s group, to encourage further environmental legislation to protect the area.


From this story in the Great Falls Tribune:
The Coalition to Protect the Rocky Mountain Front said that based on economic indicators from recent Fish, Wildlife & Parks studies of hunting’s impact, the Front needs further legislative protection. Five Montana sportsmen said in a teleconference call Tuesday that the hunting industry is a rare economic bright spot in the current recession, and called the Front a poster child of this sustainable economic engine. “The remarkable thing we are seeing here is stability,” said Randy Newberg, an accountant and host of the hunting television series “On Your Own Adventures.” “The numbers along the Front show public land hunting has not been as susceptible to the broader economic challenges facing other industries during the recent recession,” he said.
The coalition cited five years of hunting data collected by FWP regarding hunting on the Front. The numbers say that during 2006, sportsmen hunting along the Front spent $9.8 million; which grew to $10.4 million in 2008 ˜ in the middle of the recession; and fell slightly in 2010, to $10.1 million. “Hunting is annually renewable,” said Stoney Burke of Choteau. “It is not boom and bust. It is a huge economic stimulus for these little communities along the Front.”_

Makes sense to me, and I’d be willing to bet the same economic argument could be made about any number of conservation programs that are in very real danger of being eliminated under the guise of deficit reduction. Your thoughts?