SALT LAKE CITY — Some quiet time in the great outdoors in a portion of Utah delivered a sizeable chunk of change to local economies, with an estimated $17 million in impacts logged in one year alone.
A first-ever study devoted to an exclusive analysis of "quiet recreational activities," looked at what was taking place on 2.1 million acres of Bureau of Land Management lands in Iron and Beaver counties, or those lands within the purview of the agency's Cedar City field office.
The report released Thursday details that out of 492,000 recreation visits logged in 2015 by the BLM, 364,000 — or 74 percent — were for quiet recreation that includes hiking, hunting, biking, fishing, camping or wildlife viewing.
Quiet recreation is generally nonmotorized activity that excludes off-highway vehicle use, power boating, snowmobiling or driving for sightseeing.
The Pew Charitable Trusts commissioned ECONorthwest to complete the report. ECONorthwest is Oregon's largest economic consulting firm, while the trust is a nonpartisan, nongovernmental organization that carries out global research.
The study found that camping dominated the list of all activities, carving out 20 percent of the visitor days on lands managed by the BLM's Cedar City field office.
Hunting and "viewing" each shared 14 percent of the time spent recreating, followed next by driving and OHV use at 9 percent.
In a teleconference detailing the report, the senior manager for Cedar Sports said the company has experienced firsthand the dynamics of a growing recreation economy serving outdoor enthusiasts who want to camp, bike and backpack.
Brynn Strain said Cedar Sports' winter sales exceeded projections by 80 percent, and there's been no slowing of interest by people who want to connect with the outdoors.
The study found that more than 200 jobs in that region are directly linked to outdoor recreation, such as guides and outfitters.
Tom Adams, director of the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation, said much of the office's focus is dedicated to improving access to "quiet activities," including providing grants for the maintenance or restoration of trails, and partnering with other organizations for projects such as climbing walls or bicycle camps. Grants also support community fishing programs.
"We get pulled into everything recreation," Adams said. "At the end of the day, we want to make sure that we are creating the best outlets and the best places for business to land and residents to enjoy their lives here so we become the best place for residents to live, work and play."
The vast majority of people who engage in outdoor recreation start with quiet activities such as hiking and camping, he said.
"The numbers that we see in Cedar City, I do love that (the report shows) 20 to 25 different recreation types," Adams said. "It goes to show the diversity we have with our recreation in this state."
The report was released as BLM officials begin crafting revisions to their resource management plan for the area.