Outdoor Industry Association Report Points to Value of Protecting Public Lands
Seattle—The Outdoor Industry Association released figures today quantifying the economic impact of outdoor recreation in all 50 states, including Washington State. The report makes clear that outdoor recreation is a major contributor to our state economy, supporting jobs, businesses and communities, and that the tie between land conservation and growth cannot be overlooked.
The report found that Washingtonians spend $22.5 billion each year on outdoor recreation, directly supporting 227,000 jobs and generating $1.6 billion in state and local tax revenue.
Outdoor business owners from around the state weighed in:
“Outdoor recreation businesses rely on the preservation of public lands, wilderness areas and waterways for our economic livelihood and the livelihood of the thousands of people employed by the outdoor industry across Washington State,” said Ken Meidell, vice president of outdoor sales and marketing at Cascade Designs and active board member of the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance. “The recently released OIA numbers show that conservation leads to more than just improvement of our quality of life—protecting these wild places is the right thing to do for Washington’s economy, outdoor recreation and future generations.”
“Washington is a great state to live and recreate in. These new numbers from the outdoor Industry association on the impact of the recreation economy to our state prove that conservation, recreation and business go hand in hand,” said Paul Fish, CEO, Mountain Gear. “[Our company] impacts these numbers in directly supporting nearly 100 families and benefits from the protection given our recreation lands and the lifestyle choices of our citizens. We choose to live and work in Washington state due to the quality of life and it’s good to know that quality of life and protecting recreation land is a good investment.”
“It’s exciting to put numbers to what many of us have long known: recreation plays a key part in our local economy, from the businesses who sell boats or bikes, to local inns and and restaurants who serve the millions who flock to our community to enjoy our natural resources,” said Clark Casebolt, founder of Outdoor Odysseys Kayak Tours in Friday Harbor. “It’s time to take note about the role our industry plays in our economy, especially as we look to pull ourselves out of the recession.”
“Protecting the outdoors has long been a cultural value in Washington State and we’ve worked together to preserve our natural resources for generations to come,” said Joe Hyer, owner of the Alpine Experience in Olympia. “But the recently released OIA numbers show that conservation leads to more than just the improvement of our quality of life. It is critical that local leaders understand how the preservation of public lands fuels our economy by creating jobs through recreation and tourism.”
“Small businesses like mine depend on Washington’s unmatched outdoor opportunities, like kayaking and other boating, to help support our communities,” said Morgan Colonel, President, Olympic Raft and Kayak. “As our economy continues to gain strength, we need to remind our elected officials that conservation and public lands fuel our economy and create jobs through outdoor recreation and tourism.”
“Outdoor recreation businesses like Cascade Designs rely on the preservation of public lands, wilderness areas and waterways for our economic livelihood and the livelihood of the thousands of people employed by the outdoor industry across Washington State,” said Ken Meidell, vice president of outdoor sales and marketing at Cascade Designs and active board member of the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance. “The recently released OIA numbers show that conservation leads to more than just improvement of our quality of life—protecting these wild places is the right thing to do for Washington’s economy, natural ecosystems, outdoor recreation and future generations.”
“Businesses like ours depend on Washington’s growing recreation economy to help support our communities,” said Scott Paton, owner of Arlberg Sports in Wenatchee. “The billions of dollars that the recreation industry pumps into our economy, coupled with the thousands of jobs it provides, cannot be overlooked. This study highlights what many of us have long known: protecting the outdoors makes good business sense.”
Locally, Washington relies on two major tools for the land and water preservation efforts that help create opportunities for the recreation economy to grow: the state Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP) and the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). These programs allow communities around the state to create trails for hiking and biking, improve access to close-to-home parks and protect waterways for boating and kayaking.
“Here in Washington, we are fortunate to have leaders in both our state legislature and congressional delegation who understand the importance of protecting our great outdoors for the state’s economy,” said Joanna Grist, Executive Director of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition. “Their support of programs like LWCF and WWRP ensure communities have the resources they need to ensure a healthy economy and a healthy environment.”
The report took an in-depth approach to analyzing recreation and outdoors dollars spent and how they affect local economies as well as national growth.
Key findings include:
- Outdoor recreation generates $22.5 billion in consumer spending, 227,000 direct Washington jobs, $7.1 billion in wages and salaries and $1.6 billion in state and local tax revenue
- Washington ranks sixth in the nation for number of direct jobs. By some estimations, that’s a larger figure than the state’s IT and aerospace employment, combined.
- These numbers measure direct employment in the outdoor recreation sector — as opposed to indirect, implied, multiplier or ripple effects that include impacts of spending, jobs and wages as they circulate throughout the economy.
- Direct jobs include: product designers; marketers; outdoor gear/equipment manufacturers; retailers; hotel & restaurant employees; and others.
- Outdoor recreation spending in Western states equaled $255.6 billion – nearly 40% of the national total. This includes purchases of outdoor gear and vehicles as well as travel expenditures when enjoying the great Western outdoors.
The national report as well as a one page fact sheet for each U.S. state is available on the OIA
website at outdoorindustry.org/recreationeconomy.
The OIA figures follow a series of reports that all point to the power of the outdoor recreation industry and the connection between economic growth and improving access to public lands.
A recent report by nonprofit economic research group Headwaters Economics, West is Best, finds that the western United States, including Washington State, is outpacing the rest of the country in job creation, personal income and population growth, and that protected lands give western states a competitive advantage that helps create more jobs (especially in services industries like high-tech) and higher per capita income.
A recent poll conducted in Washington’s redrawn 8th Congressional District shows that over three-quarters of voters on both sides of the Cascades see public lands as good for jobs and quality of life.
About the Coalition
The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition is a non-profit citizens group founded in a historic bipartisan effort by former Governors Dan Evans and Mike Lowry. The Coalition advocates for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP). The WWRP is the state’s primary tool for land and water conservation. The Coalition’s members consist of a diverse group of over 275 organizations representing conservation, business, recreation, hunting, fishing, farming and community interests. The breadth and diversity of the Coalition is the key to its success–no one member could secure such a high level of funding for parks and habitat on its own.