In a recent press release from the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA), outdoor recreation is recognized as a large and growing percentage of the U.S. economy. Outdoor recreation accounts for 2.2 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product, according to the final report by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). The report also found that outdoor recreation contributes over $734 billion to total U.S. gross output.
“OIA’s analysis shows that Americans spend $887 billion annually recreating outside. All of this data underscores that outdoor recreation is a significant and growing contributor to the U.S. economy – we strongly encourage members of Congress to invest in public lands as these numbers demonstrate the return on investment.” –Amy Roberts, executive director at OIA.
It is important that Congress sees the positive impact outdoor recreation has on the economy. According to the OIA press release, this study is the result of the unanimous passage of the Outdoor REC Act of 2016. OIA and its membership worked with Senators Gardner and Shaheen as well as Representatives Reichert, Beyer, McMorris Rodgers and Welch to move this bill and insure funding to get the study launched. OIA is now looking to Congress to continue to fund this report on an annual basis and produce regional data.
“This report shows that outdoor recreation is an economic powerhouse – and underscores the need to continue investing in measures that preserve our environment and access to public lands.” — Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, New Hampshire
Americans all over the country enjoy spending time outdoors, and this report from the BEA clearly illustrates the benefits to our economy. Seeing this growing force will hopefully lead to investments in preserving and maintaining public lands. As outdoor recreation grows, finding effective, sustainable ways to manage our public lands will be increasingly important.
States that lead the pack in outdoor recreation are often highly involved in sustainable initiatives and environmental programs. Several states have Offices of Outdoor Recreation. These states include Washington, Oregon, Utah, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and North Carolina. New to the pack is California, who just established their Office of Sustainable Outdoor Recreation this year. These offices provide a way for legislative leaders to become involved in supporting environmental funding and sustainable initiatives. The Outdoor Industry Association works closely with these offices and works hard to promote and expand outdoor recreation.
With outdoor recreation on the rise, it’s important that businesses and organizations integrate sustainability into their operations. It’s great to see the industry raking in money for the economy, but keeping recreation sustainable is the most important piece to the puzzle. Sustainable recreation and tourism will allow generations in the future to enjoy the outdoors like we have. As outdoor enthusiasts, sustainable initiatives directly impact the things we love–skiing, biking, paddling, surfing, hiking, you name it.
With climate change looming over our future powder days, it’s no wonder the snow sports community has become a force in the sustainable movement. Ski resorts in California and Colorado have adopted initiatives that contribute the sustainable movement. This year, Squaw’s Green Bucks program raised $43,235 towards the restoration of the nearby Truckee River. Over in Colorado, Aspen’s Give a Flake campaign encourages people to take a stand on climate change and make your voice heard. They encourage people to vote for leaders who will address and combat climate change head on. Whether it’s energy efficient machinery at a resort, registering to vote, or simply carpooling to the mountain, we are all responsible for the preservation of our beautiful natural world.