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Growing Our Economy Through the Great Outdoors

The President of the American Fly Fishing Trade Association discusses how the Obama Administration's work to protect our outdoor spaces is important for small businesses and our economy.

It comes as no surprise that all living things require clean land, air and water. Does the U.S. economy require the same? A new report from the Outdoor Industry Association says, yes! According to the report, recreation in the United States supports 6.1 million jobs and drives $646 billion a year in direct consumer spending on recreational gear and travel. Even during these challenging economic times, the outdoor industry has been growing at a steady rate of 5 percent annually.

President Obama has proposed a $450 million investment in the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) for fiscal year 2013. The LWCF is a critical tool for protecting our forests, parks, rivers, open space and local sports fields.  By using revenues from oil and gas drilling to invest in Federal, state and local conservation efforts, the LWCF has been used over the last 50 years to provide recreational opportunities in nearly every county in the Nation. Congress should follow the President’s lead by funding the LWCF, which will protect and enhance the local and state parks enjoyed by fly fishing enthusiasts around the country.

At the American Fly Fishing Trade Association, we understand the importance of protecting our public lands and fostering the economic contributions of outdoor enthusiasts. Manufacturers and retailers of fly-fishing products are not looking for a handout. What we envision is our Nation’s leaders working together to protect the public lands where citizens can use our products and ensure future generations have the same opportunities to recreate as we do today.  We should all be able to agree that protecting the public’s access to the outdoors now and for future generations is not only common sense, but also the ideal job creator.

Ben Bulis is the President of the American Fly Fishing Trade Association