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The Economic Power of Outdoor Recreation

Turn on CNN and you’re bound to hear a report about the economy.  Flip over to Fox and they’ll be covering the same thing.  Switch to MSNBC and yep, you guessed it, they’ll be talking about the economy, too.  While everyone has their own take on how best to get out of this slump, it’s clear that something needs to be done.

How about investing in outdoor recreation?

According to Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior, hunting, fishing, and other outdoor recreation contribute over $730 billion to the economy each year.  And one in twenty U.S. jobs are in the outdoor economy.  To put that into perspective, that’s a higher proportion than for doctors, teachers, and lawyers!

Though these numbers are impressive by themselves, this growth in the outdoor recreation economy (estimated at about five percent each year) is catching the attention of many decision makers at the highest levels.  Indeed, the Western Governors Association (WGA) has traditionally shown little interest in investing in public lands for purposes other than resource consumption.  This year, however, Governor Christine Gregoire, chair of the WGA and governor of Washington, summarized the WGA’s position with the following statement:

“Outdoor recreation is critical to the West’s economy for more than just the opportunity to play in the great outdoors. It creates sustainable jobs and incomes for our friends and neighbors, especially in rural areas. It provides the opportunity to unplug from our busy lives, recharge our souls and live healthier lifestyles. The history and ethic of the West are tied to our lands and great outdoor places. Let’s build a world-class industry and recreational opportunities for Westerners and visitors to enjoy.”

Will you be traveling to a National Park this summer?  Or perhaps heading to your favorite stand or stream?  We’d love to hear how you’re contributing to the outdoor recreation economy!

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