Jeanne Horne: Craig tourism meeting highlights

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Dear Editor:

I have had the pleasure of being involved with the Moffat County Tourism Board over the past couple of months working on an extremely worthwhile program that has been named "HIT" (Hunting Is Tourism).

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While hunters (primarily non-resident hunters) provide our family's income through outfitting, hunters also provide a tremendous source of income to our local communities here in NW Colorado.

On Saturday, May 5th at the Holiday Inn in Craig, the Cultural & Heritage Tourism Regional meeting was held and a very special guest joined us -- Colorado's Governor Bill Ritter. J.B. Chapman of Craig was our spokesperson and gave the HIT Presentation. Here are just a few of the highlights that were presented to the Governor and the other attendees:

  • Each year 27,000 to 30,000 hunters visit Moffat County to hunt our wildlife. According to the Colorado Division of Wildlife, the Northwest Division of Wildlife personnel manage 30 percent of all deer and elk in the State.
  • Over two million people fish, hunt or watch wildlife each year, which generates over $2 billion annually for the State of Colorado & creates over 20,000 full-time jobs on the Western Slope alone. These activities rank second in money generated by activities in the state, trailing slightly behind the ski-industry.
  • Studies show the non-resident sportsman spends an average of $350 per day while on a hunting or fishing trip in Colorado.
  • Non-resident hunters are tourists. Not only do they hunt, but they bring their families to ski, ride the rapids, fish and tour Colorado. These tourists fly into northwest Colorado, rent cars, buy gas, eat in our restaurants, stay in our motels and help local economies.
  • There's a group of resident sportsmen who are trying to discourage the non-resident hunter coming to Colorado through further license limitation. In 2005, they threatened to seek legislation to restrict non-resident hunting licenses to just 20 percent. Our city and county government, local Chamber of Commerce, the Economic Development coordinator and many local businesses helped outfitters present many facts and figures to the Colorado Wildlife Commission. As a result the license reductions were not as severe as the special interest groups aimed to achieve, and for this we thank our northwest communities.
  • Those same resident sportsmen are gearing up to repeat their efforts. This time they're seeking support for a ballot initiative to restrict non-resident hunting licenses to just 10 percent. They've stated the loss of revenue to the state is not their concern.
  • Some studies show that for every 1,000 non-resident hunters we lose, the impact to the state is $1.8 million. Add the license fee revenue the Division of Wildlife loses, and the loss grows to over $2.3 million.

We would like to extend a big thank you to Shelly Flannery for putting the Regional Tourism meeting together, for allowing our HIT presentation to be heard and for her efforts to get Gov. Ritter in attendance. We also want to thank our northwest Colorado communities for supporting hunting, fishing and outfitting.

Sincerely, Jeanne Horne

Bar-H Outfitters

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