A report from Protect the Flows pegs the Colorado River recreation industry at $26 billion and a quarter of a million jobs


Thanks to U.S. Senator Mark Udall for the link. Here’s the report from Udall’s Scribd page.

From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Matthew Berger):

The study, commissioned by Protect the Flows, a coalition of recreation and tourism businesses, also found that the river produces $26 billion in economic output, generated primarily by the recreation and tourism industries. By far the largest share of that total, $9.6 billion, occurs in Colorado.

The 234,000 jobs that the study, through surveys and economic modelling, found the river supports would place it ahead of companies like General Motors, Boeing and Disney. “That’s a pretty conservative number,” noted Protect the Flows’ Molly Mugglestone. “These are direct jobs we’re talking about.” They do not include the less direct economic benefits the river provides to farmers, ranchers, cities and power companies, nor to river users in Mexico. In order to ensure the river continues to be able to support those jobs, a summit of business and government leaders met Friday in Denver to discuss the report’s findings.

“You don’t have to spend much time around rivers to understand their importance,” said Sen. Mark Udall, D-Boulder. “The cynics might scoff at nonconsumptive uses…but it’s tough to know the value of something until it’s gone,” he said, referring to water that is left in rivers rather than withdrawn for irrigation or other consumptive uses.

More coverage from Catharine Tsai writing for the Associated Press via The Denver Post. From the article:

Southwick Associates Inc. developed the report by first conducting a telephone survey of people in all Colorado River basin states except California from Jan. 24 to Feb. 12 to estimate how many people hike, fish, raft, camp, picnic or otherwise play on the river system and how often. President Rob Southwick said California was excluded because only a small part of the state uses the river for recreation. Then, researchers matched the survey results with data on spending on travel and equipment for outdoor activities to estimate economic impacts. The study estimates that business activity from recreation focused on the river system supports about 234,000 jobs in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming and generates more than $1.6 billion in federal taxes annually and $1.6 billion in state and local tax revenues.

The figure of $17 billion in direct spending from river recreation would likely be higher if visits from outside the region were included, said Sarah Sidwell, manager of Tag-A-Long Expeditions in Moab, Utah. Sidwell said 40 percent of customers for her rafting and off-road business are international. “Our stake in this is huge,” Sidwell said of keeping the river system healthy. “We need to have a flowing river in order for me to have a job and 100 part-time employees to have jobs.”

Rhett Bain, owner of Reel Deal Anglers in Jackson, Wyo., said a seasonal guide for his business earns about $30,000 in 90 days including tips.

More Colorado River basin coverage here.

Leave a Reply