Alabama has more riches than most realize, it’s not hunting or fishing, but it’s vast array of bird species.
In an eye-opening analysis, federal wildlife officials found that more money is spent on watching birds and other wildlife in Alabama than is spent on hunting.
Counting purchases on everything from vehicles for exploring to birdseed and binoculars, $626 million was spent in 2001 on watching birds and other wildlife in Alabama.
That's compared to about $601million on hunting and $719million on fishing. The economic analysis was compiled by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Using U.S. Census data, the officials estimate that about 703,000 people took part in bird-watching in Alabama in 2001. The vast majority were backyard bird-watchers, only 70,000 were out-of-state visitors, but about 40 percent of all watchers take trips to find birds.
Officials at the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, pointing to the economic success of a coastal birding trail, are completing the North Alabama Birding Trail, which will go through 12 counties. The project, with about 50 sites, began September tenth and could be finished by spring 2005.
Similar trail projects have been successful in Texas, Arizona and Lake Erie.
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