Adding it Up: Economic Value of Birding and Wildlife Viewing to Montana
Millions of birdwatchers and wildlife watchers
- 66 million Americans actively participate in wildlife watching (USFWS 2001 data)
- 46 million Americans are birdwatchers (conservatively defined as having taken a trip a mile or more from home for the primary purpose of observing and identifying birds or tried to identify birds around the home—USFWS, 2001 survey).
- Birdwatching is the fastest growing form of outdoor recreation-- a 236% increase in participation from 1982 to 2001, from 21 million to 71 million (National Survey on Recreation and the Environment 2000-01).
Adding revenues to local economies—
- Wildlife watchers spent $38.4 billion in 2001-- resulting in a $95.8 billion contribution to the nation’s economy and producing more than one million jobs.
- Birdwatchers spent $32 billion in 2001 that in turn generated $85 billion in economic benefits, produced $13 billion in tax revenues and 863,406 jobs (USFWS, 2001).
Spending billions on bird seed, feeders and wildlife viewing gear annually—
- Wildlife watchers spend $3.1 billion on food for birds and other wildlife; $733 million on bird houses and feeders; $2.6 billion on cameras and associated photographic equipment; $507 million on binoculars and spotting scopes.
And willing to pay more to see wildlife—
- The net economic value (willingness to pay above what is actually spent) for the chance to see wildlife outside the state is $134 per day, and $35 per day for wildlife in state. (USFWS, 2001 study).
In Montana —
Wildlife viewing tops the list
- Wildlife viewing is the number ONE reason people visit Montana (2001 Univ. of MT Institute of Tourism Recreation Research study).
- 325000 nonresidents and 362,000 residents actively participated in wildlife watching in Montana in 2001.
Adding millions of dollars into the Montana economy--
- Wildlife watching expenditures total $350 million annually, supporting 10,302 jobs (2001 USFWS survey).
Montanans love birds
- Montana has the highest percentage of birding participation in the nation--44 % of Montana residents watch birds—compared to an average of 22 % in the nation (USFWS, 2001 study).
- Wildlife viewing is the third most popular activity among Montana households –52% of the state’s population participates.
- Montanans spent $10 million on wild bird food in 1996.
Cases in Point — values of birding trails, festivals, birding destinations:
Birding trails capture the birdwatching and wildlife viewing market—
- Travelers on the central coast portion of the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail devoted an average of 31 days per year viewing wildlife on the trail. They spent an average of $78 per person per day, while traveling the trail, resulting in a direct expenditure of $2,452 during the past twelve months. (from Avitourism in Texas survey, 1999).
Birding festivals are moneymakers—
- Nature tourists visiting the HummerBird Festival in Rockport, Texas contributed $1.4 million in direct expenditures to the local economy in 1995.
Birding benefits rural communities--
- • Visitors to the popular birding areas of Ramsey Canyon and San Pedro River Basin, near Sierra Vista, Arizona, spend between $10 million and $17 million annually, generating between $17 to $28 million in local economic activity, and creating between 350 and 590 jobs. The study also showed a marked increase in birdwatchers choosing lodging locally in Sierra Vista in the past decade instead of staying in Tucson. (Univ. of Arizona 2002 study).
- • Birding at Florida’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in southwest Florida had an economic impact of $9.4 million in 1993-94 alone.
- • In a 1993-94 study of visitors to Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge,Texas, results showed that they spent an average of $347/person and a total of $14 million in local communities.
- • In 1997, from Aug-Oct., 27,885 elk viewers visited Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park to see rutting elk, contributing more than $2.3 million to Estes Park and surrounding communities.
- • Alaska’s wildlife viewing visitors spend more than twice as much in-state as other visitors ($1051/visit vs. $465/visit), according to results of a 1994-95 survey.
- • The 100,000 plus birders who visit the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia spend more than $10 million each year in local communities. This income comes outside the beach season and is in addition to income generated by beach lovers.
- • People observing sandhill cranes along the Platte River in Nebraska generate $40 million in tourism dollars for local economies each year.
- • In 1992, visitors to the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Pennsylvania supported a minimum of 150 restaurants and more than 65 motels, campsites and bed and breakfasts.
- • A 1993 study of birders who visited Cape May, NJ, documented that they contributed more than $10 million to the local economy, generating a $266,000 economic impact on the local area. In 1996, participation in the same festival doubled and generated an economic impact of $1.6 million.
Information collected and assembled by
the Montana Birding &Nature Trail Steering Committee,