JETMORE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials say hunters contributed more than $600 million to the state's economy last year, and they're hoping to increase that figure with a campaign to attract hunters from out of state.
The value of outdoor recreation was in the spotlight at the recent Kansas Hunting Showcase, sponsored by the state Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. The event took place in southwest Kansas at HorseThief Reservoir near Jetmore, one of the state's newest major venues for hunting and fishing, The Pratt Tribune reported.
Vendors came from several western Kansas cities that benefit from hunting, along with representatives of lodging establishments that cater to hunters.
Kansas has more than 1.5 million acres open to public hunting, and state officials want to make sure that hunters throughout the country know what the state has to offer, said assistant agency secretary Linda Craighead.
The agency plans to use national print, television and digital media to promote Kansas as a primary spot for the outdoors to continue an increase in the state's revenue. Craighead said out-of-state hunters and fishermen account for 60 percent of the money going to the state coffers.
Partnerships within Kansas are also critical, department Secretary Robin Jennison said. He pointed out that HorseThief Reservoir, which opened in 2010, would not have built if voters in three counties that adjoin Hodgeman County had not agreed to a special sales tax for the project.
“We want regionalization. When you talk about regionalization, people get concerned,” Jennison said.
But, he added, “A rising tide brings up all ships and in rural Kansas, we need to understand that and HorseThief is a prime example of what we're going to be able to do with partnerships.”
Jennison also noted that along with this year's favorable weather, partnerships among his agency, landowners, Pheasants Forever and Ducks Unlimited have created a strong outlook for the 2014 hunting season for pheasant, quail, waterfowl and turkey.
Kansas has one of the nation's biggest pheasant populations, and this summer's brood counts were up 70 percent from last year. Roadside surveys also showed a 50 percent increase in quail populations statewide over 2013.
Information from: Daily Tribune, Pratt, Kan., http://www.pratttribune.com/