Recreation doesn't cut it

  Many rural people hope that new industries such as tourism will offset the losses when timber and mining industries pull out of an area. Research conducted by the University of Idaho's College of Agriculture found that for at least that one small county, recreation is not bringing in enough money to keep suffering economies afloat. The research was conducted in Clark County, pop. 800, in southeast Idaho, a county bordering Montana and close to Yellowstone Park. The study was funded by the Clark County Commissioners, Clark County Stock Growers and federal land management agencies.

"Rural communities don't catch a fair amount of the money spent on recreation," says extension economist Neil Meyer. "The money goes to the community where the recreationalists are from, and most of the economic benefits occur there." Meyer said only 3 percent of the money spent on camping is seen in the county while 97 percent is spent back at a camper's home - economically healthy cities like Boise, Salt Lake City or Pocatello. "This results in a question of fairness, not right or wrong," says Meyer. "How do we get funds to these communities? How do these communities fund search and rescue?"

The 27-page report by Neil Meyer, Aaron Harp and Kevin McGuire, Economic Impacts and Fiscal Costs of Public Land Recreation in Clark County, Idaho, is available from Meyer at the University of Idaho, Cooperative Extension System, Moscow, ID

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