The outdoors is big business in Michigan, study finds

News Photo by Crystal Nelson Jason Snyder, manager at Clem’s Bait and Tackle, pours minnows in a bucket at the shop, 304 N. 9th Ave. Approximately $451 million is generated annually in Northeast Michigan from hunting- and fishing-related purchases, a recent study from the Michigan United Conservation Clubs found.

ALPENA — About $11.2 billion is contributed to Michigan’s economy annually by hunting- and fishing-related purchases, with Northeast Michigan generating approximately $451 million to the economy, according to a recent report from the Michigan United Conservation Clubs.

Michigan’s 700,000 hunters and 1.1 million anglers generate $8.9 billion from hunting and $2.3 million from fishing, stemming from purchasing gear and clothing, booking hotel rooms, buying meals and more.

Jason Snyder, who manages Clem’s Bait and Tackle, said fishing is a big industry for Northeast Michigan, where people travel to the area to fish not only Lake Huron but also the inland lakes. He said the area is starting to get recognition for the quality of bass fishing.

The shop primarily sells bait and supplies for fishing but hunting licenses for small and big game can also be purchased there.

“We’re providing a means of contact with your licenses, of local information on fishing tactics and locations in the area,” he said of how the business supports the industry. “The other side of that is we’re selling merchandise.”

The recent study by the United Conservation Clubs showed Michigan ranks first among the Great Lakes states for jobs created from those hunting- and fishing-related purchases, a press release from the club said.

The data also shows 171,000 jobs are created and supported annually across Michigan by hunting and fishing, putting those related activities in the top 10 percent of the state’s job-creation industries. For every $1 million spent on hunting- and fishing-related purchases in the state, 19.58 jobs are created, researchers said.

The overall economic effect the Conservation Clubs discovered is more than twice as much as previous estimates from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, according to the report.

Hunting and fishing licenses generate about $62 million a year for wildlife and natural resources conservation projects in Michigan, with more than $40 million coming from hunting license sales. That money is required by law to go toward wildlife management and conservation activities.

Additionally, license fees and surcharges on hunting and fishing pay for most of the wildlife conservation and habitat restoration work done by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. An aging population of sportsmen, however, means the number of people hunting and fishing continues to decline.

The press release cited a demographic analysis conducted by Michigan Technical University showing the number of firearm deer-hunting licenses sold in Michigan has dropped nearly 21 percent over two decades — from a 1998 high of 785,000 deer hunters to 621,000 in 2017. By 2035, projections are that the late-90s rate will be cut by more than half.

“Hunters and anglers foot virtually the entire bill for conservation in Michigan and across the nation,” Dennis Eade, director of the Michigan Steelhead and Salmon Fisherman’s Association, said in the press release. “A continued decline in that base has huge implications for how we manage conservation of our forests and fields, wildlife, our lakes, rivers and streams today.”

Crystal Nelson can be reached at 989-358-5687 or cnelson@thealpenanews.com.