Laura Hewitt (608) 630-2743, Erin Mooney (571)-331-7970
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Trout Unlimited Report Finds Recreational Angling Generates Over $1 Billion to Driftless Area Economy
Fishing Tourism Reaps Huge Benefit to Four States
LACROSSE, WI – A report commissioned by Trout Unlimited finds that recreational angling in the Driftless Area of southeast Minnesota, southwest Wisconsin, northeast Iowa and northwest Illinois generates over $1 billion to the local economy each year.
Each year more than 125,000 anglers visit the Driftless Area, a 24,000 square mile area. They spend $647 million which goes directly into the local economy. This spending also produces a “ripple effect” of $465 million in indirect and induced benefits as those dollars continue to circulate through the local economy. The direct spending plus that ripple affect exceeds $1.1 billion.
The report was conducted by NorthStar Economics, Inc. of Madison, Wisconsin. Researchers surveyed a random sample of the 155,000 trout stamp holders in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa. The survey collected demographic information as well as fishing and spending habits related to angling in the Driftless Area. Survey data were segregated between those respondents who live in the Driftless Area and those who travel to fish there. The data from the two groups were weighted proportionately to determine the overall economic impact.
The survey results showed that men and women of all ages and income and education levels fish in the Driftless Area. However, most anglers in the Driftless Area are men with a college, graduate or technical degree. These anglers report an average annual household income of $60,000 to $80,000 and travel to the area to fish between March and September. Most survey respondents say they stay in local hotels or motels and eat in local restaurants. On average, each angler reports spending an average of $4,000 per year in the Driftless Area.
The full report “The Economic Impact of Recreational Trout Angling in the Driftless Area” can be found at www.tu.org/driftless.
The survey also showed that these anglers have a high level of awareness regarding stream restoration efforts by state, federal and county resource management agencies and conservation organizations. Investments in improving fish habitat and water quality, as well as efforts to provide public access for fishing have contributed to the development of the Driftless Area as a major fishing destination.
“Investment in conservation, particularly by federal conservation programs, has brought tremendous benefit to the four states in the Driftless Area,” said Laura Hewitt, Trout Unlimited’s Watershed Programs Director. “Not only has it helped improve fish and wildlife habitat, protected clean water, and preserved the scenic beauty of the landscape, but it has helped support the regional economy.”
Hewitt continued, “Trout require clean cold water and healthy stream habitat to thrive. Local communities benefit not only from improvement to water quality, but from the anglers who come to the area to pursue these fish and infuse millions of dollars into the local economy.”
At a news conference this morning, U.S. Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) said, “As co-chair of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, I know how much sportsmen’s dollars contribute to the economy.” He continued, “A recent study found that hunting and fishing in Wisconsin is $3.1 billion economic force – and angling here in the Driftless Area makes up a large part of it. This tremendous benefit to our economy underscores the need to maintain our resources to support the industry through national and state conservation and restoration programs. This study can only help leverage greater investment, and I remain committed to promoting a strong federal commitment to conservation initiatives in Wisconsin and across the country.”
"Trout fishing is critically important to our region’s economy,” said Minnesota Rep. Tim Walz. "I applaud Trout Unlimited for all of their work over the years to stabilize our creeks and streams in the Driftless Area. Their hard work has paid off, resulting in a thriving trout population and an extremely popular recreational area for anglers."
“Many of my fly-fishing clients have fished the top fly-fishing destinations around the world and they are consistently very impressed by the trout fishing resources we have here in the Driftless,” said Dan Butterfass, owner of Rochester Tour Company, an outdoor guide service in southeast Minnesota. “These visitors like the uncrowded streams, the wild brown and native brook trout fishery, and the scenic beauty of the landscape.”
“It’s important for people to realize that we can have economic development and protect our environment too,” said Dolores Fishback, chair of the Guttenburg, Iowa Riverfront Development Task Force. “So often when people talk about economic development, the focus is on trying to attract or retain factories to their area. People rarely talk about our natural resources, and don’t realize that the tremendous economic potential of these unique resources is right here under our nose.”
The last glaciers bypassed the 24,000 square miles of the Driftless Area, leaving behind more than 4,000 miles of streams and spring creeks that flow through portions of the four states. With its limestone bluffs, fast flowing streams and springs, it is considered a unique national treasure. However, past farming practices in the 1800s and early 1900s led to massive erosion and water quality degradation throughout the region.
Trout Unlimited has been one of the leading organizations working with resource management agencies in efforts to restore streams and rivers in the Driftless Area. In addition to extensive stream restoration work by its volunteers, TU has worked with agencies to integrate planning and build staff capacity for project implementation, worked to raise awareness of the unique resources of the Driftless, and helped leverage in excess of $1.5 million for stream restoration in 2008 alone.
Trout Unlimited is North America’s leading coldwater fisheries conservation organization, with more than 150,000 members – including over 9,000 members in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois – dedicated to the protection and restoration of trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds. More information on TU’s work to restore the Driftless Area is available at www.tu.org/driftless <http://www.tu.org/driftless> .