Sierra Club: Recreation Tops Extraction in U.S. West

Outdoor recreation like hiking is generating more money and jobs than the extractive industries in the American West.© Getty

A new report released last week by the Sierra Club shows that the economics of the American West have shifted dramatically over the past few decades, with recreational activities supporting more sustainable jobs and economic growth than the extractive industries once critical to the region’s economy. The report, titled "The New Economy of the West: From Clearcutting to Camping," shows that in recent years many western communities have shifted their reliance from drilling, mining and logging to recreational activities like camping, fishing, hunting, skiing, climbing and boating on public lands for jobs, economic growth and vitality.

According to the report, outdoor recreation across the American West generated more than $60 billion and over 600,000 new jobs in 2006 alone. Western communities situated closest to federally protected public lands showed the strongest economic growth in recent years. The Sierra Club says it is working to get traction for this information so that policymakers and the public can counter industry propaganda about the need to increase drilling, mining and logging on Western lands.

"Public lands drive the tourist-based economies in our western states," says the Sierra Club’s Keren Murphy, who authored the report. "If we protect special places, they"ll provide a source of income and enjoyment for generations to come."

Source: Sierra Club