Huntin’ and fishin’ still bring big bucks to Aspen
Aspen is better known for people hunting Gucci handbags and Prada sweaters than deer and elk, but a recent study shows Pitkin County still reaps more than $23 million annually from hunting and fishing.The economic study for the Colorado Division of Wildlife showed that Pitkin County ranked 22 out of 63 counties in Colorado for highest income from hunting and angling.Wildlife officer Kevin Wright, whose district covers much of Pitkin County, said he hadn’t read the report yet, but the Aspen area’s standing didn’t surprise him.”If you look at what Pitkin County has, you have some really good, prime hunting areas and world-class fisheries,” Wright said. “We’ve got some really good stuff here.”The wildlife division had a consultant, BBC Research and Consulting of Denver, perform the study. It was completed last fall but became much more accessible to the public this week when it was posted at the wildlife division’s Website. The address is http://wildlife.state.co.us/about/Economic_Impact/index.asp for the study.The study examined activity in 2002. Spending was down from the last study in 1996. That came as little surprise because Colorado was plagued in 2002 by wildland fires and drought. That kept many out-of-state anglers and hunters away.Statewide, hunters and anglers spent $797 million on sporting equipment and expenses related to their trips, like groceries, beer, licenses, restaurant meals and lodging, the study said.The so-called multiplier effect – where dollars spent in a community get re-spent within that same community – boosted the total contribution from hunting and fishing to $1.5 billion in Colorado, the study estimated.The 2002 spending was converted into 2004 dollars for the study.In Pitkin County, there was $13 million in direct spending by hunters and anglers and another $10.6 million in indirect economic benefit in 2002, according to the study.The statistics are somewhat misleading because the lower Fryingpan River, a mecca for anglers, is part of Eagle County. Spending there doesn’t get reflected as part of the Roaring Fork Valley.In direct spending only – the expenses for hunters and anglers on their trips – fishing accounted for $6.14 million. All hunting combined accounted for nearly $7 million.The split didn’t surprise Wright because hunting occurs during small windows of time during the year while fishing happens year-round. He noted that there were anglers out this week even when the snow was blowing horizontally.While hunting and angling brings big bucks to Pitkin County, it brings bigger bucks to Eagle and Garfield counties.Hunters and anglers pump $30 million directly into Garfield County’s economy, according to the study. The multiplier effect increases the amount to $53.1 million. That’s 10th highest in Colorado.Eagle County reaps $32.2 million directly from hunters and anglers and a total of $57.8 million. That’s eighth highest in the state.The study estimated that hunting and fishing creates 340 jobs in Pitkin County, 690 in Garfield County and 820 in Eagle County. Those positions can be everything from guides to sales clerks in sporting goods stores.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is email@example.com.
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