Public lands in the United States are managed by a host of federal agencies for many uses, ranging from industrial development to car camping to flyfishing. The nation’s public land is a priceless asset. Without getting too nostalgic, Woody Guthrie had it right: This land belongs to you and me. But this American asset is source of controversy of late. Western state governments have their eyes set on America’s public lands, demanding that control of this national asset be shifted to the states where, presumably, it’ll be better managed.

In his important and timely essay, “This Land is Your Land,” writer Chris Hunt explores this latest and very dangerous threat to the waters fly anglers call home.

Words: Chris Hunt

It’s time for a wake-up call. Public lands have real value to the local, state and national economies. Congress and bureaucrats need only connect the dots. In the United States, outdoor recreation contributes almost $650 billion to the economy every single year, and employs 6.1 million Americans (Outdoor Industry Association). Sportfishing in America contributes $114 billion a year to the nation’s economy, including nearly $15 billion in federal, state and local taxes (American Sportfishing Association). In 2011, hunters spent $38 billion in American communities and contributed $12 billion in tax revenues (American Shooting Sports Foundation).

Now, certainly, not every outdoor recreation endeavor takes place on public lands, but a good portion of them do. According to the U.S. Forest Service, “various activities on Forest Service lands contribute more than $36 billion [given what we know from the data above, this figure is likely quite low] to America’s economy each year supporting nearly 450,000 jobs.

If you’re scoring at home, the immediate economic impact from activities on Forest Service lands amounts to six times its budget. That’s one hell of an investment…

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