The Rogue River is renowned for its world-class whitewater and fishing opportunities, but its economic significance is often overlooked. Two new studies recently conducted by ECONorthwest quantify both the hard revenue generated statewide by recreation on the Wild and Scenic Lower Rogue River and the value to society of Rogue River salmon and steelhead.
“Regional Economic Impacts of Recreation on the Wild and Scenic Rogue River” examines the impact recreation-related spending on the Lower Rogue River has on Josephine County and Oregon’s economy. The analysis shows that in 2007, Oregon enjoyed at least $30 million in direct economic benefits from recreational activities on the Rogue River. Of this total, approximately $15.4 million was paid as wages to employees or earned as income by business owners. Recreation on the Wild and Scenic Rogue supported 445 full- and part-time jobs statewide.
“The vitality of the Rogue River is central to my business’ success. This national treasure attracts visitors from all over the world who fish, raft, hike and spend money at local stores, hotels, and restaurants,” said Brad Niva, owner of Rogue Wilderness Adventures.
The results of “The Economic Value of Rogue River Salmon” are even more impressive. This report, based on peer-reviewed, published research, results from the Oregon Population survey, and the Oregon Department Fish and Wildlife’s fish-count data, finds that West Coast residents enjoy more than $1.5 billion in economic benefit each year from Rogue River salmon and steelhead runs. This includes $1.4 million in revenue from the sport fishing industry, $16 million from the commercial fishing industry, and $1.5 billion—about $32 per resident—that can be attributed to the existence value and quality of life associated with the current Rogue salmon population. The report notes that current levels of protection may not be sufficient to sustain the high quality of life provided by the clean waters and surrounding natural landscapes in the Rogue River basin.
“The poor planning that has caused our current fiscal crisis is also hurting our natural economic capitol the waters and lands that sustain us,” said Stephanie Tidwell, Executive Director of the Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center. “These reports affirm the connection between the outstanding natural resources of the Rogue River and the health of our local and regional economies. We need to ensure that these resources are protected for the benefit of both communities and natural systems.”
Tidwell is part of the Save the Wild Rogue Coalition, a group of business and non-profit interests working with Congressman DeFazio and Senator Wyden to pass expanded protections for this national treasure. The Rogue River was among the original eight rivers protected in 1968 under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. The proposed legislation will protect 143 miles of fish-bearing tributaries in the lower Rogue River watershed, an area of unparalleled recreational opportunities. These waters provide clean, cold water that is vital to the large numbers of spawning fish that still manage to return to this salmon and steelhead stronghold. The threat of harmful logging and road construction along these tributaries caused American Rivers to name the Rogue one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers in 2008.
Recent Senate passage of the Omnibus Public Land Management Act, which included expanded Wild and Scenic Rivers and Wilderness in Oregon, is an optimistic sign for the Rogue, according to Kavita Heyn of American Rivers.
“There is a lot of support and enthusiasm for ensuring our natural resources are protected for the health and economic stability of local communities. We are grateful for the Oregon Congressional delegation’s continued efforts to expand protections to the Rogue. We look forward to working with Congressman DeFazio and Senators Wyden and Merkley to realize long-term protection of this unique southern Oregon river system,” Heyn said.
For more information on the methods used in creating the reports, please contact Ted Helvoigt. More information on the campaign to Save the Wild Rogue, including contact information for more than 70 business and conservation partners, can be found at http://www.savethewildrogue.org/.
American Rivers is the leading organization working to protect and restore the nation’s rivers and streams. Rivers connect us to each other, nature, and future generations. Since 1973, American Rivers has fought to preserve these connections, helping protect and restore more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and the annual release of America’s Most Endangered Rivers®.
Headquartered in Washington, DC, American Rivers has offices across the country and more than 100,000 supporters, members, and volunteers nationwide. Visit www.americanrivers.org, www.facebook.com/americanrivers and www.twitter.com/americanrivers.