Agri-Tourism Program Making A Difference
A program instigated by the Two Rivers Resource Conservation & Development Area is bringing landowners in touch with outdoor enthusiasts who want a place to hunt, fish, trail ride, camp, hike, bird watch or pursue other outdoor interests.
During the last several years the general public’s desire for new outdoor recreational areas has increased at a very rapid rate. The Two Rivers Access Illinois Outdoors (AIO) program recognizes the growing need to match the general public that is seeking consumptive (hunting & fishing) and non consumptive (hiking, camping, bird watching, etc.) uses with private landowners.
Over 450 landowners statewide controlling 180,000 acres of land have enrolled in the program. Over 2,270 landusers representing 38 states, Canada and Germany have completed profiles and requested access to private property.
This project has in affect created another 180,000+ acre park. In the past, the lack of recreation on private lands had fostered poor landowner-landuser relations. This issue has been addressed by the Two Rivers AIO program. The economic impact on the area has been impressive. Over 75 business enterprises have been created as a result of the program in addition to the stimulus it has provided to the local economy. In Pike County alone, an estimated $16 million is brought into the area each year by non-resident hunters to landowners, motels, restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores and sporting good stores. Each new dollar brought into a community is multiplied by three for total economic impact. This would calculate to $48 million each year. Many hunters return with their families to Illinois during nonhunting months to vacation. An estimated $5,000,000 is created in additional tourism dollars. This creates an additional economic impact of $15,000,000 ($5,000,000 x 3). The total economic impact generated in Pike County is an incredible $63,000,000 annually. These figures are replicated in the surrounding counties making it the largest industry present. During this time of financial crisis in the ag market, the Two Rivers RC&D AIO program has also played a critical role in the survival of the family farm. With the tourism dollars created through landowner leasing, an extra $1,000 to $20,000 per year farm income has been generated.
Due to the increased use of the natural resources, best management practices have been applied to insure continued resource productivity.
There are many people looking to visit rural Illinois and participate in Access activities. We feel the Two Rivers RC&D Access Illinois Outdoors program has met all our objectives and been a very successful program and will continue to promote the program throughout the State of Illinois.