Public lands are owned by every American. In Nevada, 86% of land is public land, managed by the federal government but owned by the American public. This arrangement ensures that families throughout Nevada and from across the country can access our state’s natural treasures— from the vermillion cliffs of Red Rock Canyon to the world’s longest-living trees at Great Basin National Park to the gleaming shores of Lake Tahoe — now and for years to come.
As Nevada diversifies our economy to draw more employers to our state, attention is turning to our many and varied outdoor recreation opportunities. Residents and visitors can hike, fish, climb, camp, hunt, ski, bike, and sail next to world-class amenities and entertainment. Our state invites us to explore and learn about Western and Native heritage and history while witnessing rare wildlife and plants. Whether visitors are looking to get away or bring the family, Nevada public lands offer it all. Small and large businesses in the hospitality, service, food and beverage, insurance, and recreation industry cater to these uses, employing thousands and helping grow local economies.
Without the proper policies in place, however, our state’s outdoor recreation economy and the parks, lakes, and natural playgrounds Nevadans enjoy could deteriorate, fall away to development, or vanish. Nevada’s decision makers have an opportunity to be champions for our beloved public lands, protecting the economic growth, recreation opportunities, and American beauty these places represent. The time to lead is now.
The Public View
A 2018 survey of Western state residents’ views of public lands, “Conservation in the West,” found that an overwhelming majority of Nevadans (86%) believe that outdoor recreation will be important to the economic future of Nevada, with 56% saying it will be very important. Nearly two-thirds of Nevadans (72%) think that Western states’ public lands and outdoor recreation opportunities give our region an advantage over other parts of the country. Significant majorities (higher than 70%) also agree that public lands help nearby economies, conserve national treasures for future generations, and must be protected so their children and grandchildren can experience them one day.
“Conservation in the West” also shows that two-thirds (66%) of Nevadans are worried about lacking the resources to properly maintain and take care of national parks, forests, and other public lands — a concern that is not assuaged by the funding fights in Congress. A similar percentage (67%) is also concerned about potential rollbacks of laws that protect our land, water, and wildlife. Nearly half of Nevadans (49%) polled said they oppose privatizing the services provided on public lands, further demonstrating that Nevadans favor keeping public lands in public hands.
For many Nevadans, visiting public lands is integral to our quality of life. More than three-quarters of Nevadans say they have visited federal public lands (national parks, forests, monuments, etc.) in the past year, including 47% who have visited them 1-5 times and 20% who have visited them 6-20 times. More than two-thirds (71%) of Nevadans polled consider themselves “outdoor recreation enthusiasts,” with another 68% saying they identify as conservationists. Additionally, polling consistently shows that communities of color support protection of public lands at higher rates than the general population.
Nevadans love our public lands and want to see them protected!
Outdoor Recreation Means Business
The Outdoor Industry Association released an analysis in 2018 that highlights the economic benefits to maintaining access to and funding for our public lands. Nationally, the outdoor recreation industry generates $887 billion in consumer spending, $65.3 billion in federal tax revenue, and $59.2 billion in state and local tax revenue, while employing 7.6 million people. In Nevada, the outdoor recreation economy generates 87,000 direct jobs, $4 billion in wages and salaries, $12.6 billion in consumer spending, and $1.1 billion in state and local tax revenue. In fact, outdoor recreation sustains three times as many jobs as the mining industry. OIA’s assessment also found that Nevadans are more likely to participate in day hiking and backpacking than the average American, making public lands all the more valuable to residents of the Silver State.
Without public lands, Nevada would lose an economic powerhouse.
The Nevada Outdoors Business Coalition recognizes the importance of protecting the resources upon which our businesses depend. Our members share a solutions-based approach as well as the common goal of supporting public lands funding and initiatives that benefit the outdoor economy. We support appropriate conservation measures including roadless areas, wild and scenic rivers, and public lands management efforts that expand and improve opportunities for hiking, biking, paddling, climbing, backcountry skiing and snowshoeing, camping, hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing and other forms of both backcountry and close-to-home outdoor recreation.
Our business members took note of the cautionary tale illustrated by our neighbor Utah, who lost the biannual Outdoor Retailer Show to Colorado. This happened after state officials repeatedly, for years, called for the sale or transfer of federal lands to the states, attempted to nullify the Antiquities Act, and requested the rescission of two National Monument designations. In losing the OR show, Utah lost 40,000 annual visitors and $45 billion in consumer spending, benefits they had relied on for more than 20 years. Colorado now reaps the profits.