SALT LAKE CITY -- Leaders representing Utah chambers of commerce, sporting organizations and small businesses met Wednesday to announce the launch of Hunting Works for Utah, a partnership created to promote the economic relationship between hunting and shooting sports and Utah's economy.
"The reason we are here today is to highlight the mutually beneficial relationship hunting has with the economies of Utah," Rep. Curtis Oda, of Clearfield, said at a news conference.
A recent study conducted by the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation revealed that hunters spend approximately $550 million on their sport in Utah each year.
The resulting economic impact of these dollars, the study said, translates to 12,700 Utah jobs, $62.5 million in state and local tax revenue and a $925 million ripple effect on Utah's economy.
Clay Perschon, a retired wildlife biologist for the Utah Department of Wildlife Resources and the hunters group co-chairman, said the 35,000 hunters who travel from out of state to hunt in Utah each year play an important role in bringing in outside money to strengthen the state's local economies.
"When they come here, they bring their wallets with them," Perschon said. "The hunters are a dedicated lot, and they show up every year."
"They buy fuel, they eat in our restaurants, they stay in our motels," said Adam Massey, Vernal Chamber of Commerce executive director and group co-chairman. "It's a huge ripple effect on our community."
The positive impacts hunting has on Utah go beyond just that of economics, said Greg Sheehan, a director at the DWR.
"Some people ask, 'What do hunters have to do with wildlife management?' And the answer is simple -- virtually everything is done by hunters," he said.
"Hunters have always been the ones to step up and help out in preserving and expanding our wildlife populations."
Sheehan said much of the $100 million spent by DWR in the past 10 years on the restoration of more than 1 million acres of Utah habitat was generated by hunters.
The sales of hunting and fishing licenses -- with 357,000 license applications turned in so far this year -- as well as taxes on hunting equipment under the Pittman-Robertson Act (which provides funds to each state for wildlife restoration), have created enough revenue in the past to cover "nearly all" of DWR's wildlife conservation costs, he said.
Through the use of these funds, Sheehan said, Utah has developed the largest habitat-restoration program in the West.
Oda said Hunting Works in Utah's partnership -- so far consisting of 30 partners -- will work to become a prominent voice in advocating for sportspeople on a variety of issues.
Roger Schneidervin, a retired DWR wildlife biologist and group co-chairman, said he has witnessed the positive impact of hunting on rural communities. He said hunting is far more influential to Utahns' lives than many may realize. And that, he said, is information everyone should know.
"It's an important message, and I think we need to share it all across our state."