As a senior wildlife associate with the Natural Resource Enterprise (NRE) program at Mississippi State University, I get asked all the time by landowners about nontraditional ways of earning income from their land. I’m passionate about helping people find ways to increase incomes or build additional revenue from existing assets on their property.
I’m not sure if you’re aware, but outdoor recreation is a $145 billion industry in the United States. That’s billion with a “B.” It’s bigger than the entire motion picture industry and the entire airline industries combined. Did you know that nature tourism, including wildlife watching, is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the outdoor industry?
These are just a few of the nuggets you’ll learn about during our workshops, one of which is scheduled for Sept. 24 at the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute. But those are just teasers. The fact is the bulk of what you’ll learn is:
- Habitat management.
- Ways to cost-share conservation practices.
- Business planning.
- Customer satisfaction.
- Legal aspects of recreational businesses.
- Estate planning.
- Pitfalls of operating outdoor businesses.
The NRE program has engaged landowners in 10 states and two European countries with research-based information about wildlife and fisheries recreation. Since 2001, we’ve worked diligently to put together more than 200 presentations tailored at helping landowners navigate recreational business and increase incomes from outdoor recreation. Many of our attendees have bolstered previous revenue streams from existing recreational businesses.
Over the past 14 years, we’ve worked with landowners across the Southeast improving habitats for wildlife and fish. From coastal wetlands to the prairies, landowners are all trying to be better stewards of their land and use the latest habitat practices to increase populations of game and nongame animals. Many landowners also understand the advantages of fee-based access to these resources. Landowners are creative, and many have used a lease as their primary profit tool. Leasing has been around for generations in many cases, and we’re not in the business of trying to increase lease prices on hunters and anglers, but we do try to help landowners understand the actual value of these resources. It’s about knowing what the market will support and how to key in on market indicators that show you how to valuate a property to recreationalists.
Of the landowners who have attended our NRE workshops in the past, 90 percent didn’t have a management plan before they came. A year after attending the event, these same landowners, when surveyed, reported an average annual income of roughly $14,000 on average of 800 acres from natural resource enterprises they established. Astonishingly, this was attributed to increased knowledge of habitat practices and information they learned about recreational business during the event.
Come see for yourself how you can make these ideas work for you. As I mentioned earlier, our next Outdoor Recreation Business Workshop will be Sept. 24 at the Institute. The focus of this workshop will be on land associated with cattle production. However, there will be information valuable to landowners of all types as well.
Registration ends Sept. 17, so be sure and sign up soon. Hope to meet you there.