ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Silver City is hosting an Outdoor Recreation Economic Conference Thursday and Friday where promotion and support of the state’s industry will be the primary topic.
The conference at the Grant County Conference Center will feature seminars and speakers from numerous outdoor related federal and state agencies, private businesses, advocacy organizations and political leaders.
Panel discussions about successful community and company programs that promote outdoor recreation opportunities, eco and wildlife tourism, state promotional resources, benefits of trails, sustainable tourism, federal partnerships with land management agencies and equal access to the outdoors are on the schedule for the meeting.
The public is invited and more information about attending can be found on the website www.outdooreconomicsnm.com.
With more than 40 percent of New Mexico’s land in public hands, great weather and friendly people, the state has long been an outdoor recreation mecca.
But the industry as a whole has long suffered from neglect due to its diversity and lack of a trade association.
That is slated to change now that the state has created an office of Outdoor Recreation under the State Economic Development Department.
The office’s new director, Axie Navas, who managed digital media and marketing for Outside magazine in Santa Fe is scheduled to speak at the conference.
Navas said in a recent interview that her first priorities will be to take stock of the industry, get out and meet the players and develop a strategy for helping support and promote them.
The industry is diverse, including hunting, fishing, hiking, boating, camping, sightseeing, bird watching, golfing, skiing, mountain biking, horseback riding, motorized off-roading and other outdoor activities.
Taking inventory of all the state’s businesses, agencies and others involved in the outdoor industry is already underway and plans to provide digital media and other promotion support also are being considered, Navas said.
The state’s outdoor recreational industry brings in about $10 billion in consumer spending each year accounting for an estimated 10 percent of the state’s gross domestic product, according to the recent academic and business studies.
The industry supports close to 100,000 jobs across the state and generates almost $3 billion in payroll while providing more than $600 million in taxes to government coffers.
The fly fishing industry on the San Juan River at Navajo Dam alone produces up to $30 million in business every year while anglers spend about $268 million statewide, according to New Mexico Department of Game and Fish reports.
Other areas of the outdoor industry are more difficult to quantify due to a lack of information and studies. That also could change now that the outdoor industry has an office within state government dedicated to it.
Karl Moffatt is a longtime New Mexico journalist and avid outdoorsman who posts regularly on his blog at www.outdoorsnm.com.