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Conserving Public Lands is Good for Business

Outfitters, fishing guides and manufacturers of hunting and fishing gear in the Rocky Mountain West acknowledge that a balanced approach to development on public lands that conserves important fisheries and intact tracts of big-game habitat is vital to their livelihoods and the hunting, fishing and recreation that help sustain rural economies throughout the region. From Idaho to New Mexico, business owners weigh in on the importance of public lands managed for conservation and recreation.

ClackaCraft Drift Boats

Matt Kelley, National Sales Representative
Idaho Falls, Idaho

Matt Kelley

For more than 30 years, ClackaCraft has been producing an extensive line of drift boats designed to meet the needs of professional fishing guides and recreational anglers alike. Engineered to last a lifetime, Clacka fiberglass drift boats are built from state of the art materials using ever-evolving technology.

ClackaCraft is so confident in the durability of our product that we offer a 100-year guarantee on each and every hull we build. What we can’t guarantee, however, are world-class rivers with ample fish populations. Many of the West’s great rivers, such as the Henry’s Fork, Green and Madison, are sourced from headwaters located on federal public lands. ClackaCraft and our customers depend on these headwater streams – not only for their productive spawning habitat, but also for the cool clean water that keeps the mainstem rivers fishing all summer long.

Responsible public lands management that maintains clean, fishable waters directly affects the success of guides and outfitters as well as the experience enjoyed by recreational anglers— key components that drive boat sales. Conservation of watersheds on our public lands is crucial to the continued success of our business.

Jeff Mead

Mamm Peaks Outfitters, owner
Grand Junction, Colo.

Jeff Mead

Jeff Mead and his family have made a living out of what might be a vacation for many people – riding horseback through the backcountry in Colorado’s mountains, tracking deer, elk and bears.

Mead and his family have run Mamm Peaks Outfitters for about 26 years. He and his two sons typically hire at least one other person. They lease private, Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service land for his hunting guide business.

Some of his grandchildren have started taking the trips through the roadless areas in the White River National Forest. Mead hopes his children and their children can carry on the hunting guide business if they want to. For that to happen, Mead said, the public lands so important for fishing, hunting and recreation will have to remain accessible to the public and crucial wildlife habitat will have to be conserved.

Mead saw his business drop off a few years ago when a company started drilling for natural gas on land where he takes his clients. After some wrangling in federal court, the company now stays off the roadless forest land and drills horizontally from adjacent property.

Business has picked up again, thanks to changes in the energy operations and an improving economy, Mead said.  Most of his clients have hunted with him for at least 15 years, some driving from Michigan and Wisconsin.

"The hunters bring a lot of money into the state. Hunters buy fuel. They always get a motel before going to the mountain and before going home. They’re eating dinners."

Tim Wade

Owner, North Fork Anglers
Cody, Wyo.

Tim Wade

Tim Wade is a prime example of the draw of the Rocky Mountains’ beauty, wide open spaces and access to hunting, fishing and recreating on public lands.

A Missouri  native who visited Cody, Wade eventually moved to the northwest Wyoming community. The fishing in some of the region’s most treasured waters hooked him.

Wade was working for oil companies as a water consultant, "helping them clean up and keep out of trouble with the Environmental Protection Agency." He could work anywhere he wanted to.

So, he moved his family from Illinois and opened a fly-fishing shop and guide business –  Tim Wade’s North Fork Anglers in downtown Cody. About 25 years later, his business draws customers from across the country and attention from ESPN and fly-fishing shows.

No one has to tell Wade how important the public lands surrounding Cody are to the area’s economy. As a Park County commissioner, he opposed the New World gold mine, proposed near the northeast corner of Yellowstone. The project was halted after the federal government struck a deal buying out the mining company.

Wade also helped campaign for federal designation of the Clark’s Fork of the Yellowstone as a wild and scenic river. He believes in conserving the natural resources while accommodating other activities, such as energy development and logging, on public lands.

"Where else in the Lower 48 can you see moose, grizzlies, wolves, elk and deer?" he asked. "Where could you enjoy that if you didn’t have public lands to support them as well as grazing, ranching?"

David Brinker

Marketing, Sitka Gear
Bozeman, Mont.

David Brinker

Since Sitka Gear was founded in 2005 we have rapidly grown into the leading manufacturer of high-performance hunting gear. We recognize that our success is due in large part because the customers who buy our products have places to hunt. Many of our customers are dedicated public lands hunters. They tackle the backcountry in pursuit of big game in places open to everyone with a harvest tag and a desire to hunt.

We recognize many legitimate uses of public lands exist. To our company and many of our customers, the most important uses are wildlife conservation and access for the benefit of hunting. We encourage our nation’s federal agencies to focus on management activities that ensure robust game populations on public lands. Conserving this resource is not only important for our heritage; it’s important for our bottom line.

Nick Streit

Taos Fly Shop
Taos, N.M.

Nick Streit

My father started the Taos Fly Shop the same year I was born.  When I was still a young child, he was forced to close his business as a result of the effects of large-scale mining on the fishery. A quarter-century later, our business is again open and doing well, thanks in part to the work of conservation organizations.

With a growing population, climate change, and a society with an unquenchable thirst for water, conservation efforts are needed more than ever.  My family depends on clean trout waters for a living, and we are not the only ones.  There are countless families in the country making a living in an environmentally sustainable fashion because of fishing.

Currently, Trout Unlimited is working on several watersheds in the area.  Projects like these not only benefit our wildlife, but attract visitors to our state as well.  Many tourists come to this area to enjoy the outdoors, and fishing is a big part of that.  If we can improve fishing in the area, we can increase tourism dollars for our local economy.  This type of sustainable industry is paramount to our communities.  Countless New Mexicans earn a living through hunting, fishing, cycling, skiing, rafting, hiking, and outfitting.  Healthy watersheds are an integral aspect of all these industries.

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