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Report: Outdoor activities soared during pandemic

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — It may be no surprise that outdoor activity in Wisconsin increased last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but a new report Thursday from the Wisconsin Policy Forum attempts to quantify just how much more state residents were getting out of the house.

Park visits, sporting goods sales and fishing licenses all increased last year in the face of canceled indoor events and cautions about the dangers of catching the virus while around other people inside, the report found.

The nonpartisan policy think tank suggests that state and local officials should consider increasing investments on parks, public lands, boat ramps and other green space to handle the higher demand.

Examples of increased outdoor activity include:

— 13.2% increase in fishing license sales between March 1, 2020, and Jan. 31, 2021, compared with the same period the year before. Fishing license sales were at their highest point in five years.

— 42% increase in state park vehicle stickers over the first 11 months of 2020 compared with all of 2019.

— Nearly 33% increase in trail passes purchased from April through December 2020 compared with the year before.

— Sporting goods sales increased from 5.9% of all sales tax collected between March and November in 2019 to 26.4% over the same eight months last year.

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