Alternative forest resource use - outdoor recreation and rural economics
Since the 1980s demand for outdoor recreation has been increasing in the United States. Growing income and change in lifestyles have been cited as factors contributing to the increase in demand. This period also coincided with a decline in timber prices and loss of income to forest land owners. Forest-based recreation has intensified as a part of forest management activities and has compensated the fall in timber demand and contributed income to forest land owners that enhanced rural economies. About 75% of Alabama is under forest cover but little is known about forest recreation utilization and its effects on local communities. The objective of this study was to assess the relationship between forestry and hunting/wildlife watching and its impact on property owners and the multiplier effect on rural economies. Expenditure figures for hunting and wildlife watching from the 2006 National Fish and Wildlife Survey, and IMPLAN Alabama economic data was used for the analysis. The result suggested that a dollar spent in hunting and wildlife will generate $2.04 in the economy. Hurting and wildlife earns 55% and forestry earns 35% while the rest of the industries share 10%. Furthermore, value added distribution showed that 38% accrues to property owners in the form of proprietor's income and other properly income. It is fair to say that outdoor recreation is as good source of income to forestland owners and also has a multiplier effect on rural economies.