"Trout Economy" benefits fishermen, jobs in Driftless Region

"Trout Economy" benefits fishermen,...

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - As trout populations grow in our area, so does the economic impact of the trout fishing industry.

A new study commissioned by Trout Unlimited, and designed by a UW La Crosse professor, puts a number on the impact: $1.6 billion across the Driftless Area, which includes areas of southeast Minnesota, southwest Wisconsin and northeast Iowa. The number includes people who travel within the region to fish as well as people who come in to the region to fish.

"People both inside and outside the region are realizing what quality fisheries we have available," says Duke Welter. He's the Outreach Coordinator for the Driftless Area Restoration Effort. He also works for Trout Unlimited.

The last study in 2008 found the trout fishing industry had a $1.1 billion impact. Welter attributes the increase seen in the new study to conservation efforts. "People have cared for these streams," he says. "We have people who will travel three or four hours on a weekend to come to a volunteer project on one of these streams."

The result of those projects are less sediment in the waterways and more food sources for trout. According to Welter, the trout population has increased ten-fold over about the past ten years.

As trout benefit, so do many other species. "We've put in habitat for turtles, frogs, snakes, butterflies, shorebirds and waterfowl," says Welter. "The more species we can benefit in these watersheds, the better off we are."

The new study also finds trout angling recreation supports 6,500 jobs in the Driftless Area.

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