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Report: More tourism along Lower Yellowstone River would boost region's economy

 Lower Yellowstone River
Kayla Desroches
Yellowstone Public Radio/File photo
Lower Yellowstone River

Montana groups working to expand recreational opportunities along the Lower Yellowstone River say the initiative could bring millions of dollars more to the region.

Three organizations — Business for Montana’s Outdoors, the Montana State Parks Foundation and Wild Montana — commissioned a report that found updating boating, camping and public access infrastructure along the river from Treasure County to the North Dakota border would boost out-of-state visitor spending in the region by more than $5 million dollars annually.

Eastern Plains Economic Development Corporation executive director Beth Epley says the initiative would also support 56 jobs region-wide.

“Eastern Montana has historically been too long in the background of these tourism and outdoor recreation conversations, and so by providing this essential infrastructure and access, we give opportunity for private industry to develop in the communities,” Epley said.

The Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research at the University of Montana found thatin 2019 out-of-state visitors spent almost $500 million in southeastern Montana, which includes Yellowstone County.

Statewide, nonresident spending that year totaled almost $3.8 billion.

Kayla writes about energy policy, the oil and gas industry and new electricity developments.