Running Head: Economic and Environmental Impacts of Commercial Rafting in Idaho. Economic and Environmental Impacts of Commercial Rafting in Idaho

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1 Running Head: Economic and Environmental Impacts of Commercial Rafting in Idaho Economic and Environmental Impacts of Commercial Rafting in Idaho Sara Skinner University of Idaho 6 May 2011

2 2 Table of Contents Chapter 1: Introduction... 3 Abstract... 3 Problem Statement... 3 Purpose of the Study... 3 Research Questions... 5 Definition of Terms... 5 Limitations and Delimitations... 5 Chapter 2: Literature Review... 7 Environmental Impacts in Idaho... 7 Economic Impacts in Idaho... 9 Examples of other places Chapter 3: Methods Type of Research Design Sample Data Collection Validity and Reliability Data Analysis References... 16

3 3 Chapter 1: Introduction Abstract Idaho is full of natural beauty and outdoor recreation opportunities that must be preserved, but embraced by the regional economies that recreation helps support. Non-consumptive river recreation is a great way to satisfy all requirements. A study about the Snake and Salmon Rivers and their environmental, economic, and social impact on small rural communities in Central Idaho will be conducted to help ensure thriving outcomes for each interested party. Problem Statement Environmental, economic, and social impacts of commercial river use are all three extremely important, and therefore must all be taken into consideration to determine the true impact that recreational river tourism has on a region, specifically the Salmon and Snake Rivers in Idaho. Purpose of the Study Idaho is famous for its ample opportunities in outdoor recreation including fishing, hiking, biking, skiing, snowboarding, and of course whitewater rafting. Idaho is home to some of the most sought after river trips in the United States with the Snake and Salmon Rivers. The most commonly travelled on sections of these two rivers including the Hells Canyon portion of the Snake River, the Lower Salmon, and the Main Salmon. It is important to the state of Idaho s dependence on the tourism industry, and the conservation of its natural amenities must be taken into account and actively preserved. These two vital aspects of land use are not always working

4 4 together in the same direction, but in the case of river use, both the economy and environment prove successful. The focus group for this research will be the main users of river recreation opportunities commercial rafting companies. Creating a sample group of commercial rafting companies to survey about the amount they make and contribute to the economy, and what they do to protect the environments they are using and gaining a living from. In addition a voluntary tourist sample that participate in guided raft trips as well as private river users will be surveyed on the type of river recreation they participate in (rafting, kayaking, fishing, etc.), the amount of time and money spent on these trips and outings, and how this benefits their lifestyle. The purpose of this study is to appropriately portray the positive impacts that commercial rafting and recreational river use have on the economy for the state of Idaho, and the minimal affect that they have on the environment and how this affects communities neighboring these rivers. It is important for policy makers and land management to have this information to improve and continue to preserve rivers for the resource and recreational experience. The amount of income that the tourism industry earns utilizing natural amenities should increase the protections and precautions to maintain that environment. The rivers of central Idaho provide ample opportunities for consumptive and non-consumptive water-based recreation, in which about 81% of the land is under government ownership and regulation (McKean 2005). A study produced by Hjerpe & Kim in 2007 is the only attempt at combining the three major impacts (economic, environmental, and social) on the Grand Canyon National Park economic region. A mixed methodology of qualitative and quantitative data design using two surveys and personal observations and interviews will be the instruments used to research tourism and the environment.

5 5 Research Questions Recreational river use and commercial rafting outfitters have a positive impact on the economy bringing tourism to Central Idaho, and work to maintain the natural environment which is important to the continuation of visitation to these areas. Definition of Terms: Central Idaho, ecosystem, ecotourism, river recreation, socioeconomic impact, sustainable tourism North Central Idaho consists of Clearwater, Idaho, Latah, Lewis, and Nez Perce Counties (Idaho Gov. 2011). Ecosystem a geographic area including all the living organisms (people, plants, animals, and microorganisms), their physical surroundings (soil, water, and air), and the natural cycles that sustain them (United Nations Environment Programme 2001). Ecotourism responsible travel to natural areas that conserve the environment and improves the well-being of local people. River Recreation consists of utilizing the natural environment of the river for leisurely activities such as rafting, kayaking, fishing, or jet boating, etc.) Socioeconomic Impact this type of study not only includes the economic impacts, but also the social and environmental impacts on a region (Hjerpe, E. E., & Kim, Y.-S. 2007). Sustainable nature-based Tourism This is any tourism utilizing and preserving outdoor areas particularly in wilderness settings such as the Middle Fork of the Salmon and Main Salmon. Limitations and Delimitations Limitations of this study will be the quantity of returned surveys, and the honesty and accuracy of the participant. Surveys will be distributed as widely as possible, and participants will be encouraged to respond, but are not guaranteed to do so. Completion of the surveys in an

6 6 acceptable timeframe after the visit will be important to accurately recall the expenditures and occurrences on the trip.

7 7 Chapter 2: Literature Review Environmental Impacts in Idaho The Central region of Idaho consists of Clearwater, Idaho, Latah, Lewis, and Nez Perce Counties (Idaho Gov. 2011). These counties contain some of the most highly sought after river trips in Idaho the Middle Fork of the Salmon, Main Salmon, Lower Salmon, and Hells Canyon section of the Snake Rivers. These rivers alone have about 50 different outfitters running trips on them (Quicksilver Interactive Media Inc. 2011). The efforts of the outfitters on these river environments may be the most necessary step to maintain an unspoiled environment, while continuing to utilize it recreationally. Tourism has three major impact areas when greater populations frequent the environment; they are depleting natural resources, pollution, and physical impacts. The depletion of natural resources is a hot topic because the rate of consumption will not sustain the world s population. Drinking water is one of the most important scarce resources, and places like hotels and swimming pools in which are popular in tourist destinations are majorly at fault. Noise, solid waste, littering, oil and chemicals, and visual are all types of pollution caused by the tourism industry. Aesthetics are the reason many people venture to the wilderness, and if ruined the economy may too suffer as well as the environment and ecosystem. Trampling is common when tourists use the same trail repeatedly, which degrades the vegetation and soil and may lead to a loss of biodiversity (United Nations Environment Programme 2001). A study by Wagstaff and Wilson (1988) discusses the modification of littering in a river environment for commercial rafters. They reported that their, hypothesis that verbal appeal and role modeling by river guides can be effective litter control techniques. This report followed a quasi-experimental process to test their hypothesis due to a lack of control over obtaining a

8 8 random sample group. The researcher worked as a river guide on the Salmon River along the last 200 miles prior to the confluence with the Snake River. Sixteen trips acted as treatment or control groups for his experiment, in which he split them equally and had as few variances as possible. The researched developed a designated speech encouraging picking up trash and discouraging littering in the first place, before and after his safety speech. He would then model the behavior with exceedingly picking up trash after lunch, especially the small pieces people did not consider important (food scraps mostly). Ten pieces of trash were then hidden at the first campsite, and the qualitative measurement was determined by the number of those pieces recovered by guests. Wagstaff and Wilson (1988) concluded, River outfitters serve as valuable resources for promoting positive environmental behavior. Resource managers who regulate river resources have the opportunity to use the outfitters constructively. Outfitters could be required to not only provide a quality experience and safety, but educate the guests that they take down the river. Western rivers experience some different conflicts and impacts compared to rivers in the east due to social, environmental, and administrative interrelationships. There are issues with developing universal, specific guidelines that keep up with the increase in river use and maintaining an acceptable level of resource damage. There has been a significant increase in leisure time and income in our culture with the large Baby Boomer generation retiring, which has resulted in a great increase in water recreation (Lewis n.d.). The seven Leave No Trace Principles are common guidelines to follow in the wilderness. These principles are 1. Plan Ahead and Prepare, 2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces, 3. Dispose of Waste Properly, 4. Leave What You Find, 5. Minimize Campfire Impacts, 6. Respect Wildlife, and 7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors (Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics 2008). Training and

9 9 certification are available, and river users should be aware of how to leave minimal impact. Commercial rafting companies that take trips in designated wilderness areas are required to follow regulations set forth by the land management group. Companies are required to carry firepans, portable toilets, carry out all waste, ashes and charcoal, and be permitted on that section of river as well as display an Idaho Invasive Species Fund sticker on each craft (United States BLM 2008). River Rangers working for the United States Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management enforces these laws. Organizations have been established to advertise and establish the importance of protecting our natural resources, such as Idaho Rivers United and American Whitewater. Idaho Rivers United is a conservation organization in which their mission is to protect and restore the rivers of Idaho. They target river lovers, and seek active community involvement (Stoltz Marketing Group n.d.). Government regulations have also been instituted to protect river environments such as, federally, the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and Idaho, individually, the Stream Channel Protection Act. The issue with these organizations and laws is that the only people aware are people who are frequent and educated users of rivers, not the tourists taking guided trips; this shifts the responsibility to the outfitter. Economic Impacts in Idaho Whitewater rafting is among the eight fastest growing outdoor recreation activities, according to the Forest Service s assessments of visitor use (English, D. B. 1996). Tourism is broken down into three parts to describe the economic impact on county economies in Idaho: direct, indirect, and induced spending. The direct impacts are those that the visitor comes in immediate contact with such as guide services, lodging, and travel expenses. The indirect and induced impacts are not as obvious. Indirect impacts consist of the suppliers to those direct

10 10 impacts, while an induced impact is the amount added to the Idaho economy drawn from tourism activity in a region in which may affect changes in sales, tax revenues, income and jobs (See Figure 1.). Travelers in Idaho totaled $2.97 billion in 2004, and supported 7% of all jobs in Idaho (Global Insight & D.K. Shifflet and Associates Ltd. 2005). Taking a closer look specifically at Central Idaho, non-consumptive uses of the environment increase the quality of employment over consumptive uses, due to the decline in natural amenities within other employment sectors. Figure 1: Describes the methods used in determining tourism impacts on the economy (Global Insight; & D.K. Shifflet and Associates Ltd. (2005). The timber production and wood processing industries account for 8% of the employment in Central Idaho; they are a declining share of the area s economy, and are extremely detrimental to the environment. Tourism in Central Idaho produces the same output for the economy as the logging industry, but accounts for 2.5 times as many jobs and is a non-consumptive use; however, wages in this field are drastically lower. The whitewater rafting industry averages $1284 per person per trip spending on the Salmon River. According to surveys nonresident river recreationists account for 45% of the spending in Central Idaho on guide services, but data from the Idaho Outfitters and Guide Licensing Board decided that 20% or more of these rafting companies are based outside of the region (McKean, J. R., Johnson, D. M., Johnson, R. L., &

11 11 Taylor, R. G. 2005). Additional data about the spending and preferred recreational activities, travel time, spending, and number of trips, etc in the Snake River Basin were studied in A recreational demand survey and cost (time and money) was distributed by guide services and clerks in this region. Most recreational trips do not have only one single purpose or stop on the trip, so multiple add-ons and unplanned side-trips occur and must be accounted for and included in this sector of the economy. Total annual consumer surplus was estimated to be $241 per year per user (Mckean, J. R., & Taylor, R. 2000). Non-resident rafters on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River spent at total of $2,895.31, which provided a total statewide impact per 1000 non-residents of $2, (English, D. B. 1996). A county specific study was held in 2004, which demonstrates to the extent visitors support of wages, taxes, and total impact. Figure 2: Total Tourism Spending in Idaho (Global Insight; D.K. Shifflet and Associates Ltd. 2005). In Central Idaho Counties the total gross state product from tourism are as follows: Clearwater County--$8,822,919, Idaho County--$15,422,405, Latah County-- $32,439,083, Lewis County--$ 3,424,856, and Nez Perce County--$ 92,549,398 (Global Insight; D.K. Shifflet and Associates Ltd. 2005).

12 12 Examples of other places Demands of river use have increased exponentially. From on the Rogue River, visitors went from 2,800 to 7,200; on the Rio Grande River from , 17,000 visitors per year jumped to 108,000; the Stanislaus River was estimated to have 31,000 visitors per day and increase yearly 10-15%, and more people floated the Grand Canyon in 1973 than in the entire century preceding (Lewis, D. E. n.d.). The Colorado River through the Grand Canyon has very similar qualities to the Middle Fork of the Salmon River due to the high demand and limiting factors to make the trip such as permits and wilderness qualities. Grand Canyon National Park, like many other national parks, has many impacts on the region including sociocultural, economic, and environmental which should all be considered in impact studies. Often the positive economic benefits help to overlook the possible negative impacts of the tourism industry. In 2001, 22,000 people rafted the Colorado, meaning about $21,100,000 to the greater economy (Hjerpe, E. E., & Kim, Y.-S. 2007). Another study on the Grand Canyon questioned the environmental knowledge gains that whitewater rafters experienced with commercial trips. Resource protection agencies have understood the importance of education on environmental preservation. Regulators must team up with guide services to educate tourists and form an interactional bond between nature and the visitors (Powell, R. B., Kellert, S. R., & Ham, S. H. 2009).

13 13 Chapter 3: Methods Type of Research Design Mixed methodology of qualitative and quantitative research will be used to conduct this research in a non-experimental approach. A non-experimental approach will be necessary because the independent variables, my survey subjects, will not be randomized or possible to manipulate in an experiment. A longitudinal study or at least a two-year consecutive survey to ensure consistency in the original results is essential. Observations and survey results of what is actually currently occurring are a more probable design for this particular study. Sample The sample will consist of as random as possible selection of rafting outfitter owners and operators on the Snake and Salmon Rivers. Various ages, locations, companies, and organizational setups will be used to take the outfitter s survey. Another sample group will be private recreationist users of these rivers. Any river users between the ages of 18 and 75, from any location travelled, and any number of visits per year will be asked to participate in the survey.

14 14 Data Collection Instruments: Surveys (2), Personal Observations, and Interviews Variables/ Constructs: Variables will include demographic information such as ages, locations travelled from and to, timing of visit, number of times visited, and reason for visit will differ for each survey participant. Process: A survey will be developed along with a mailing list to a sample of rafting outfitter owners in the state that run trips on the Snake and Salmon Rivers. This survey will allow for gathering quantitative data to analyze and report on. The survey will consist of multiple choice as well as a few short answer questions. This survey will be used to determine the income that these rafting companies produce in taxes to the state, and the precautions that they take to ensure the conservation of the environment in training staff and knowledge of land management regulations. As a whitewater guide, interviews and observations will also provide qualitative information on environmental impacts. Another survey will be provided on a voluntary basis to river recreationalists to determine their contribution, and usual activities on these outings. Variables will be mostly in the demographic of participants: age, sex, location, and experiences will vary greatly between participants. Data will be collected during the peak season of river use in Idaho from the June 1 until August 31. Surveys will be distributed on a voluntary basis with explanation of intent through mailing lists provided by the rafting outfitters, and permit-provided information.

15 15 Validity and Reliability Validity and reliability will be taken into consideration by choosing as random a sample as possible while maintaining the river user population. Surveys will be distributed for two consecutive years and should be consistent in outcome. Validity will be present in the similarities between the results of the outfitters surveys and the results of the private river recreationists, and deciding how widespread and generalized the sample can cover. Data Analysis Data will be analyzed and put into an easy-to-understand tables and charts using Microsoft Excel for the quantitative answers on surveys. The qualitative information derived from the open-ended survey questions, interviews, and observations will be read for developing patterns while maintaining an unbiased view of the information. A process of coding the written material will have to be established to form connections and comparisons between different responses. Ethical Considerations All of the surveys and interviews will be on a voluntary basis, and participants have the option to discontinue participation at any time. Each survey will have an explanation of the intent for the study and thank participants for their time and effort. Information provided by the participant will be kept confidential and used only for research purposes.

16 16 References Cockrell, David, Bange, Steve and Roggenbuck, Joseph. (1984) Persuasion and Normative Influence in Commercial River Recreation, The Journal of Environmental Education, 15: English, D. B. (1996). Economic Impacts of Guided Whitewater Rafting: A Study of Five Rivers. Water resources bulletin (Urbana), 32 (6), Global Insight; D.K. Shifflet and Associates Ltd. (2005, September). The Economic Impact of Travel and Tourism in Idaho. Retrieved March 3, 2011, from tourisminidahoinsightstudy.pdf Hjerpe, E. E., & Kim, Y.-S. (2007). Regional economic impacts of Grand Canyon River Runners. Journal of Environmental Management, 85 (1), Idaho Government. (2011). Official Website of the State of Idaho. Retrieved April 1, 2011, from Idaho: Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. (2008). Leave No Trace: Principles. Retrieved 4 15, 2011, from Leave No Trace: Lewis, D. E. (n.d.). Problems Resulting From the Increased Recreational Use of Rivers in the West. U.S Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management, Mckean, J. R., & Taylor, R. (2000). Outdoor Recreation Use and Value: Snake River Basin of Central Idaho McKean, J. R., Johnson, D. M., Johnson, R. L., & Taylor, R. G. (2005). Can Superior Natural Amenities Create High-Quality Employment Opportunities? The Case of

17 17 Nonconsumptive River Recreation in Central Idaho. Society and Natural Resources, Powell, R. B., Kellert, S. R., & Ham, S. H. (2009). Interactional Theory and the Sustainable Nature-Based Tourism Experience. Society & Natural Resources, 22 (8), Quicksilver Interactive Media Inc. (2011). Idaho Whitewater Rafting Outfitters. Retrieved April 4, 2011, from All About Rafting: Stoltz Marketing Group. (n.d.). About: Idaho Rivers United; Mission. Retrieved April 5, 2011, from Idaho Rivers United: Wagstaff, Mark C. and Wilson, Beth E. (1988) The Evaluation of Litter Behavior Modification in a River Environment, The Journal of Environmental Education, 20: United Nations Environment Programme. (2001). Environmental Impacts of Tourism. Retrieved , March, from Three Main Impact Areas: gdrc.org/uem/eco-tour/envi/one.html United States Bureau of Land Management, Cottonwood Field Office. (2008). Proposed Cottonwood resource management plan and final environmental Impact Statement. Cottonwood, Idaho.

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