Nature Tourism

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Published on: Apr. 2, 1997

Last revision: Oct. 26, 2010

of local economies.

"It's a win-win-win idea," says task force chairman Shannon Cave. "Local communities reap increased tourism expenditures, visitors get a unique natural experience, and natural resources benefit from the greater understanding and support of tourists and community members."

Fish, Wildlife and Forests Pay Dividends

Outdoor recreation means more than a billion dollars to the Missouri economy.

by Edd Brown

There are many benefits to Missourians from the 1/8th of 1 percent sales tax that is dedicated to conservation. The tax provides about two-thirds of the annual budget for the Conservation Department. It is these dollars that have helped provide nature centers in four major urban areas and 400,000 acres of public land. This land is used for outdoor recreation, but also sustains many types of ecosystems, such as wetlands, prairies and forests.

An important point to the success of the sales tax is that, if properly applied to fish and wildlife conservation, the conservation sales tax is a self-sustaining revenue source. Fish and wildlife recreationists pay for the conservation and management of the very resources they use.

One measure of participation is the dollars spent in pursuit of outdoor recreation. Outdoor recreationists are a dedicated and generous lot. Anglers require special rods and reels, boats, motors, lures and line, while hunters usually need several guns, a four-wheel-drive or all-terrain vehicle, ammunition, camouflage clothing, knives and other equipment.

And even the non-angler/hunter has to have outdoor clothes, binoculars and other equipment. These dollars add up: in 1991 fish and wildlife recreationists spent about $1.23 billion on equipment and travel in Missouri. These dollars circulate through the Missouri economy, generating more business. The $1.23 billion spent generated another $1.9 billion in the "spin-off" industries supporting all this recreation and support nearly 39,000 jobs in Missouri.

In 1991, the state sales taxes of 4.225 percent generated nearly $52 million in revenue from the sale of goods and services related directly to fish and wildlife recreation. In that same year, the Conservation Department received nearly $55 million in revenue from the conservation sales tax.

Sales taxes of $52 million from recreation spending nearly equaled $55 million in the form of conservation sales taxes. Fish and wildlife do pay their way!

In addition, Missourians with jobs in recreation-related industries paid nearly $28 million in state income taxes to support state programs. Many counties also collect a one-half cent sales tax that amounted to over $6 million in local government funds from fish and wildlife recreation.

Conservation works, and conservationists' dollars work for conservation.

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