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Siskiyou Wild Rivers: Recreation and the Economic Benefits of Protection

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Wild and Scenic Rivers are for everyone to enjoy. Whether boating, fishing, hiking, camping, or just spending some time sitting on the bank of the river listening to the water rush by, the rivers of the area offer a refreshing break from the hectic pace of modern life.

In 1995, a U.S. Forest Service study on the economic impacts of National Forest use, found that recreation provides 88% of the jobs and 85% of the income generated by National Forest use. Timber production accounted for only two percent of the jobs and three percent of the income nationally.

Not only does Wilderness provide salvation from the hustle and bustle, it also provides a reserve to protect resources for future generations. The rivers of the region are the source of a significant recreational and commercial fishery. Wilderness provides a unique hunting and fishing experience and protects the habitat necessary for sustaining these opportunities.


Regional economic benefits of recreation on the Rogue River have been well documented, as many outfitters, river guides and tourism services exist as a direct result of the vibrant recreational opportunities the river provides. As more wilderness and wild and scenic designations are added to the existing system, opportunities to expand quiet recreational opportunities also increase. The world-class recreational fisheries of the Siskiyou Wild Rivers area provide important jobs and attract visitors to the region.

A report by ECONorthwest estimated three of the economic values associated with Rogue River salmon: commercial fishing, sport fishing, and non-use value. Non-use values represent the vast majority of the economic value of Rogue River salmon.

  • $1.4 million annually associated with commercial fishing
  • $16 million annually associated with sport fishing
  • $1.5 billion annually associated with non-use values

The economic value of the region’s additional rivers far outweigh that of the Rogue alone. Salmon that thrive in these waters support commercial fisherman and their communities from California and Oregon.

Regional Economic Impacts of Recreation on the Wild and Scenic Rogue River

Fly Fishing
  • River-based recreation on the Wild & Scenic Rogue River, including rafting, fishing, hiking, and jetboat tours, accounted for over $30 million in total economic output, including $15.4 million in personal income, and 445 full- and part-time jobs.
  • Oregon-based outfitters were responsible for 91% of commercial activity on the Wild Rogue. Of this, outfitters based in Josephine County were responsible for 38%.
  • Approximately 93% of guests on commercial rafting and fishing trips came from areas outside of southwestern Oregon and 72% came from outside of Oregon.
  • Visitors to the Wild and Scenic Rogue accounted for three out of every four lodging guests in the local area during the four-month Wild Rogue permit season (May 15 through October 15).
  • The designation of this portion of the Rogue River as a National Wild and Scenic River has contributed to the longrun economic growth in Josephine County and southwestern Oregon.
  • Increased federal protection of critical tributaries to the Wild Rogue would have positive short-run economic effects, and further enhance the long-run economic benefits accruing to Josephine County and the State of Oregon.
report from ECONorthwest (Jan 2009)