Intuitively, we all know that outdoor recreation is an economic driver. We all spend money to travel to play outside, buy new bikes and boats, grab a beer after a day on the trail. More than that, proximity to protected public lands where we can ski, climb, paddle, or ride influences where we live, where businesses choose to locate, and where families relocate. But how much does outdoor recreation actually contribute to the economy?
The Outdoor Industry Association has conducted studies that show outdoor recreation makes a mind-boggling $646 billion annual contribution to the U.S. economy and supports 6.1 million jobs. However, there are aspects of the recreation economy where we still don’t have good information. The Department of Commerce collects data on different sectors of the American economy to measure their contributions, but the outdoor recreation industry is not currently among them. If Commerce did study outdoor recreation, we would be better able to compare recreation to other sectors, and use this information to ensure public lands are managed with attention to recreation, as well as development.
Better measuring the economic contributions of outdoor recreation will play a key role in protecting the places we play and countering the false narrative that pits public land protections against economic growth and jobs.
For all these reasons, we're thrilled to see Senators Wyden and Klobuchar’s recent support for conducting studies that will ensure the economic contributions of outdoor recreation don’t go unnoticed.
Thanks, Senators Wyden and Klobuchar, for giving your support to this important issue.