Hunting works for Washington’s economy and environment
By George Twigg for TCAJOB
In Eastern Washington, people understand that hunting is a part of our lifestyle. Even hunters, however, often overlook the role hunting plays in creating jobs, economic growth and supporting efforts to preserve wildlife habitat.
As a longtime hunter and past board member of Ducks Unlimited, I know that hunting generates hundreds of millions of dollars each year for our economy and funds critical wildlife habitat programs. You don’t have to be a hunter to appreciate that.
And now there is an organization working with hunters, conservationists, chambers of commerce and others to highlight those important benefits. Launched earlier this year in Spokane, Hunting Works for Washington welcomes businesses and individuals who benefit from hunting and appreciate the value it brings to the state.
Few people can appreciate the majestic beauty of the outdoors like hunters. We go out, often in cold and wet weather, to be surrounded by nature and to enjoy an activity people have experienced for generations. And we spent a lot of money to do that.
More than 200,000 hunters every year buy equipment, ammunition, clothing and other gear to get ready for hunting season. From Colville to Seattle, businesses benefit from the money they spend.
In Washington state alone, hunters spend an estimated $156 million every year. Equipment is purchased from places we know well in Washington, like REI and Filson, in addition to places like Cabela’s and other local stores like Hammer’s Precision Outdoors in Yakima.
Hunters also spend about $163 million more in trip-related expenditures. Staying at hotels. Eating in restaurants. Much of that goes to rural communities and provide economic benefit for those areas. Overall, each hunter spends about $1,600 a year in Washington state.
In total, hunting adds more than $300 million every year to Washington state’s economy, supporting 5,600 jobs in the state. Hunters also pay about $40 million in state and local taxes. Many of those taxes are paid in rural areas where public lands may not generate much tax revenue. Hunters are part of making those lands economically productive.
And, when the downstream economic impact is counted, along with the ripple effect in communities, it accounts for over $600 million in economic benefit.
Even if you don’t have one of those jobs, you still benefit from the contributions hunters make to the state.
Every year, hunters pay excise taxes on the purchase of equipment and ammunition. These taxes add up to millions every year for wildlife conservation and hunter safety. Known as the Pittman-Robertson fund, it distributes millions each year. In 2014, Washington received about $15 million for these types of projects.
It is not an accident these funds go to help wildlife. Hunters asked for it. They understand that preserving wildlife habitat is important not only to hunters, but to everyone who appreciates the outdoors. The funds have made a real difference. Notable species that have come back from the brink since the implementation of this act include white-tailed deer, wild turkey, and wood ducks.
Not everyone in Washington state is a hunter. But many who do not hunt benefit from the hundreds of millions of dollars hunting creates for our state. They may have one of the many thousands of jobs supported by hunting. Or they may simply enjoy the wildlife and their habitat provided by taxes paid by hunters.
That’s why so many groups have come together to join Hunting Works for Washington. It is why Eastern Washington conservationists and hunters work together. And it is why we invite many more to join our efforts to spread the word about how hunting benefits us all.
For more information, go to www.huntingworksforwa.com.
[panel title=”About George Twigg” style=”info”]
George Twigg lives in Sunnyside, Washington and is a father of four. He fostered an interest in the outdoors while growing up hunting on his family farm in Moses Lake. Twigg graduated from Walla Walla College in 2000. He works in the fresh fruit and produce industry for HR Spinner Corp. He has been involved in both Ducks Unlimited and Pheasants Forever. Twigg spends 75 days a year in the outdoors with an emphasis on bird hunting and also raises pheasants for population enhancement purposes.
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