35th Anniversary – Lessons Learned
Part 7: Angler Perceptions and Economic Value
Using science to understand what anglers value or to quantify the economic contribution of fishing to the local economy is a relatively new component of HFF’s programmatic work. A series of angler attitudes surveys began in 2008 – repeated in 2014 and redesigned for 2016, 2017, 2018 – to get a better sense of factors like angler satisfaction with their fishing experience, angler characteristics, and any changes in attitudes between years. The first attempts to quantify economic value of fishing on the Henry's Fork began in the late 90s and was repeated in 2004 and again in 2016-2018. Dr. Cliff Nowell of Weber State University was involved in design, implementation, and analysis both for the original study and the most recent.
Here are a few highlights of what we’ve learned about angler perceptions and the economic value of fishing on the Henry’s Fork:
Angler Attitudes Studies:
- The “median” Harriman angler: comes from Idaho, Utah, or California; began fishing the Ranch in 1995; fishes the Ranch 6 days/yr; fishes other sections of the Henry’s Fork 3 days/yr, and catches zero fish per day on the Ranch.
- These Ranch anglers value the world-class status of the fishery, hatches, and scenery more than things like the size of fish caught, number of fish, or number of other anglers on the river.
- The study found that the only factor that correlated with angler satisfaction was “flow out of Island Park Reservoir”. NOT fish per mile in Box Canyon, fish size, air temps, habitat availability, or aquatic insect populations. The higher the flow at Island Park Dam, the lower the angler satisfaction with their fishing experience.
- Anglers who fished Island Park Dam to Riverside in months outside of just June and July had higher satisfaction with their fishing experience.
Economic Value Studies:
- From 2004 to 2016/2017, total Henry’s Fork/Henry’s Lake angler trips decreased from 168,656 to 138,660; possibly in connection with the decrease in fish populations at Henry’s Lake in recent years.
- In 2017, average total per-person spending related to fishing on the Henry’s Fork was $230 per day. That value was approximately $115 per day for Henry’s Lake in 2016.
- Preliminary estimates put the economic impact* of fishing for Henry’s Lake and the Henry’s Fork at approximately $30 million dollars, but that value is expected to increase as final data is analyzed. Total economic impact in 2004 was $29 million.
- Additional economic value in the form of consumer surplus (willingness to pay – actual expenses) was calculated at $15 million in 2004. Data for 2016-2018 is being analyzed now.
*Economic impact: the dollar contribution to the economy of a resource measured by actual spending contributing to income and jobs.