Economic and Recreational Values

  • Colorado’s National Forest land contains 4.4 million acres of inventoried roadless lands, with over 640,000 acres located in the White River National Forest.
  • The White River National Forest is the most visited National Forest in the entire nation, with 9,692,000 user days in 2002.
  • Tourism in Colorado generates more than $7 billion annually, contributing more than a half a billion dollars to Colorado’s state and local tax coffers.[1]
  • In Eagle, Garfield, Pitkin and Summit Counties (the major counties comprising the White River National Forest), 67% of the population is dependent on the tourism industry for its livelihood. Many of the tourists come to these counties to visit the White River National Forest.[2]
  • Outdoor gear and equipment sales in Colorado totaled $1.3 billion in 2003.[3]
  • Hunting and fishing generated $1.5 billion in 2002 to Colorado’s economy, and wildlife viewing added another $560 million. Many of these wildlife species depend on Roadless Areas for essential habitat.[4]
  • In Eagle, Garfield, Pitkin and Summit counties, the total economic input from hunting, fishing and wildlife watching is about $265 million. Ninety-eight percent of this is generated within the White River National Forest.[5]
  • Roadless Areas in the White River National Forest provide outstanding recreational opportunities, including hiking, backpacking, hunting, fishing, wildlife-watching, and skiing – activities that are undertaken regularly by over 66% of Coloradans, and are essential for the $18 billion dollar national outdoor recreation industry.[6]
  • The Forest Service’s own studies show that the economic benefits of extractive uses are only a fraction of the economic benefits derived from recreation and conservation activities. Specifically, conservation and recreation activities generate about 3 times the revenue and 5 times the number of jobs than extractive industries on Forest Service land.[7]
  • The White River National Forest currently contains 2,356 miles of forest-managed roads that provide access to and through WRNF system lands.[8] Nationally, the US Forest Service road system contains 386,000 miles of roads – enough to circle the earth 15 times.
  • The US Forest Service has a fiscal backlog of $10 billion for maintenance of existing roads. The Forest Service receives less than 20% of the funding needed to maintain its existing road infrastructure.[9]
  • Ecological values of roadless areas

    [1] Colorado Tourism Office
    [2] An analysis of Economic Trends in the WRNF Region, US Forest Service, 1997
    [3] Outdoor Industry Association, 2004
    [4] Colorado Department of Natural Resources.
    [5] Colorado Division of Wildlife, 2004
    [6] Outdoor Industry Association, 2003
    [7] Alward, G. et al., 2003. Evaluating the economic significance of the USDA Forest Service strategic plan (2000 revision): Methods and results for programmatic evaluations. Fort Collins, CO: USDA Forest Service Inventory and Monitoring Report No. 6. 45 p.
    [8] Page 3-382 WRNF LRMP FEIS

    [9] Forest Service Roadless Area Conservation FEIS at p 1-5

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