The results of a national survey of outdoor recreation recently released by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar showed a significant increase in hunting and a double-digit increase in fishing over the past five years.
“Seeing more people fishing, hunting, and getting outdoors is great news for America’s economy and conservation heritage,” said Salazar. “Outdoor recreation and tourism are huge economic engines for local communities and the country, so it is vital that we continue to support policies and investments that help Americans get outside, learn to fish or go hunting. That is why, through President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative, we have been focused on helping Americans rediscover the joys of casting a line, passing along family hunting traditions, and protecting the places they love.”
Officials working to promote tourism in Anson and Richmond counties are buoyed by the news.
According to americasgreatoutdoors.gov, President Obama launched the America’s Great Outdoors (AGO) Initiative to develop a 21st Century conservation and recreation agenda. This initiative turns to communities for local, grassroots conservation initiatives.
A 50-state report from AGO noted that 10 major goals and 75 action items were identified to advance the initiative, from expanding youth programs to increasing public awareness about conservation.
Some of the highlights that were heard from states around the country included: people value close-to-home places to access the outdoors; people love their rivers; and people want to conserve their large, rural landscapes.
“The Fish and Wildlife Service is dedicated to connecting people and families with nature,” said Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “We look forward to continuing to work with the states, non-governmental organizations and additional partners to help keep recreational fishing, hunting, and wildlife watching going strong for people across America’s great outdoors.”
This news ties in with developments in local tourism, and the promotion of outdoor activities offered in Anson and Richmond counties.
Anson County Tourism Development Authority Director Dave Smith said outdoor tourism is heavily promoted.
“We have a big game hunt coming up on Nov. 23-24 and a bike ride Nov. 3,” said Smith. “Details can be found on our web site discoveranson.com.”
Smith said a paddleway project for canoes and kayaks was recently approved in Anson County, which will allow paddlers 12 points of entry on the Pee Dee River.
“I’ve noticed an increase in the number of people interested in fishing over the past few years,” said Scotty Huneycutt, owner of Scotty’s Bait and Tackle in Lilesville. The store is popular with Richmond and Anson county residents who fish on the Pee Dee River.
“Richmond County has so many wonderful opportunities to experience the great outdoors,” said Meredith Holt, who works for Walker Marketing to promote tourism in Richmond County. “The Sandhills Gamelands alone span more than 61,000 acres, but we also have Uwharrie as a next door neighbor. NC Wildlife Commission manages the Sandhills Gameland area, ensuring that visitors have numerous options for walking and hiking trails, horseback riding, hunting and fishing. Eco-tourism and agri-tourism are becoming huge opportunities in the region as well.”
Outdoor attractions in Richmond County include a 14-mile paddle stretch on Hitchcock Creek, fishing at Hinson Lake, hiking at the National Pee Dee Wildlife Refuge, fishing on Blewett Falls Lake and quail hunting on The Webb Farm.
“State agencies, hunters and anglers are the key funders of fish and wildlife conservation through their license and gear purchases,” said Jonathan Gassett, commissioner of the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Resources Commission and President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. “An increase in participation and expenditure rates means that agencies can continue to restore and improve habitat and fish and wildlife species, bring more youth into the outdoors and provide even greater access to recreational activities.”