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Positive signs offer encouragement

Things are still ugly out there, of course. But, when we look for some positive news these days, seems we can find some. And, I think we’re finding it more often now, and that encourages me.

You probably think I’m referring to the current stock market gains, right? Well, it’s certainly headed in the right direction for a change, but there are plenty of pundits around who claim it’s really a false rally. I must admit I have no idea!

Actually, the encouraging news I’m referring to includes the recent report that housing starts surged up a surprising 22 percent last month. Let’s face it, any good news coming out of the housing market can have a positive impact on consumer thinking. Moreover, there are signs the consumer confidence index has finally bottomed out. Add to that the recent reports that consumer spending was better last month than anticipated. The conclusion is that consumers are still spending, cautiously perhaps, but spending. All are positive signs.

Here’s another: The Outdoor Industry Association has just sent out its “2008 Recreation Participation Report.” The association annually studies the nation’s outdoor recreation trends. Topping the list of activities last year was fishing! That’s right – the No. 1 activity among all Americans age 6 and up was fishing. It even beat out all organized sports including baseball, basketball and soccer! 

The association estimated more than 50 million Americans participated in fishing. Moreover, they took more than 1 billion fishing outings. While the study doesn’t make a distinction between fishing outings in a boat and those from shore, it’s all encouraging news for us because boating and fishing are very much linked. Indeed, any number of other studies over the years have documented upwards of 70 percent of all boats are used for fishing at least some of the time.

Finally, the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) recently announced it’s less than 3-year-old “Angler’s Legacy” program has topped the 100,000 pledges mark. In essence, the program asks avid anglers (dubbed “Ambassadors”) to preserve the legacies of boating and fishing by pledging (at AnglersLegacy.org) to introduce at least one newcomer to the sport each year. Moreover, an RBFF survey conducted last October revealed that the Ambassadors purchase about $140 in fishing tackle and equipment, $153 in boating supplies and accessories, and more than three fishing licenses.

“At 100,000 Pledges, this means the program may have already generated $25 million for the boating and fishing industries and 170,000 new fishing licenses for states,” reported RBFF President Frank Peterson.

Yes, even in this recession, there are encouraging signs out there.

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