More than “fresh air and exercise,” outdoor recreation industry gains stature

This could be good news for Ashtabula County because we are rich in outdoor recreation.

An article in the Denver Post details the sizable economic impact that skiing, hiking, rafting, and all the various forms of outdoor play deliver to the state. Colorado is not alone; the Outdoor Industry Association estimates the sector employs 6.1 million Americans and contributes to $646 billion in direct consumer spending.

Only a handful of states house an outdoor recreation office in their economic development departments – Utah was the first, followed by Colorado. Montana just joined their ranks earlier this month, where Governor Steve Bullock has directed the new office to:

  • Attract recreation industry anchors, such as gear companies;
  • Improve workforce development opportunities for the industry;
  • Market the state as a four-season tourism destination; and
  • Advocate for sustainability (Billings Gazette).

Outdoor recreation is also getting a boost from the federal government. Oregon Senator Ron Wyden has introduced “Recreation, Not Red Tape,” a bill that would expedite permitting from the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management and improve local value-capture. The Department of the Interior is advocating for outdoor recreation to be added to GDP calculations.

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