Last month, the National Shooting Sports Foundation released the results of the State Hunting and Fishing Economic Impact as part of a national report entitled, “Hunting and Fishing: Bright Stars of the American Economy — A force as big as all outdoors.”
And would you believe that New York state sportsmen and women are among 1.2 million hunters and anglers who spend more than $1.8 billion per year on fishing and hunting adventures, according to this report? Produced by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, this report ranks each state, using the results from the 2006 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation.
The No. 1 state with 2.6 million anglers and hunters, most money spent ($6.6 billion), most jobs supported (106,000) and tax revenue generated ($1.3 billion), was Texas. The state-by-state rankings were compiled to complement the national report and spotlight the immense impact hunters and anglers have on the economy at the national and state levels.
The other top-five states for hunters and anglers were: Florida, 2 million, California, 1.7 million, Ohio, 1.48 million and Pennsylvania, 1.41 million.
The big spenders after Texas were: Florida, $4.8 billion, California, $3.6 billion, Pennsylvania, $3.5 billion and Minnesota $3.4 billion.
So where does New York rank among the states? Surprisingly, we are not as low as I thought. In terms of total number of hunters and anglers, we have 1.2 million, and that ranks 12th.
The $1.8 billion we spend annually puts us in 10th. This is also very respectable, considering the survey revealed that this spending on our part has resulted in 28,000 fishing/hunting jobs in the state, and that places us 15th in that category. In addition to the $1 billion for these jobs, $250 million in state and local taxes are generated.
With regards to this $1.8 billion and its benefits, the report made some other interesting comparisons. New York sportsmen and women support as many jobs in the state as Merrill Lynch & Co. and Mt. Sinai Medical Center combined. And looking at the big picture, the economic stimulus of hunting and fishing equates to $5 million per day being put into the state’s economy.
And to put the economic impact that hunters and anglers have on a state’s economy in a better perspective, consider that Florida sportsmen/women support more jobs in Florida than Disney World (85,000 jobs vs. 61,000), and Florida anglers spend three times more than the cash receipts from the state’s orange crop ($4.4 billion vs. 1.2 billion).
There were two other statistics calculated in the report — “Days Afield” and “Days On the Water.” New York hunters spend 9.4 million days in the fields and woodlots and 14.9 million days on the water. These figures rank sixth and 13th, respectively.
Surprisingly, the state with the most days afield was Pennsylvania, with 16 million. It should be no surprise that Florida was first in time on the water, with 41.5 million days.
It is obvious from the findings within this report that hunting and fishing has a major impact on every state in the country, in terms of both the money we spend on our sports and the jobs and tax revenues that are a direct result of this spending.
Do we make a difference? If all the hunters and anglers had voted during the last presidential election, they would have equaled 31 percent of all votes cast. In New York, if all hunters and anglers voted, they would have equaled 22 percent of all votes cast in the state.
Jeff Crane, president of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, says that the economic impact that sportsmen/women have on state economies should be a wake-up call to state governments to welcome and encourage hunting and fishing in their states. And Doug Painter, president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, adds that spending by sportsmen and women benefits not only the manufacturers of hunting and fishing related products, but everything from small businesses to wildlife conservation.
It appears New York is becoming more aware of the impact of hunters and anglers and their decline. Last month, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis announced a new magazine to connect children to outdoors and nature called, “The Conservationist for Kids.”
NYSDEC will publish this magazine three times per year, and it will be targeted at students around the state in fourth grade. Initially, it will be sent to subscribers of the recently redesigned “Conservationist Magazine.”
The Conservationist for Kids will feature photos, articles and tips on activities designed to encourage kids to reconnect with the outdoors. It will contain a teacher supplement for using the magazine to enhance classroom learning, and include how-to’s for bird feeding, identifying animal tracks, etc.
NYSDEC will focus on including and strengthening environmental education and outdoor experiences for all age groups, working to increase participation in hiking, camping, canoeing, fishing and hunting, improving access to green space, improving visitor and education centers, and camps across the state. Grannis said that in a world where many of our youngsters are spending their time indoors with iPods ands video games, this magazine will hopefully give them a reason to venture outdoors.
The “Conservation for Kids” magazine will be sent directly to classroms for all fourth graders in public schools, which puts the state in an elite class: Only Idaho has a children’s outdoor magazine mailed to classrooms.
If you would like more information on “The Conservationist for Kids” magazine, go to their Web site, www.cforkids.org.