In April 2017, the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) released the third edition of the Outdoor Recreation Economy report. The report is the largest and most comprehensive report of its kind, and the numbers are simply staggering. The national outdoor recreation industry economy generates $887 billion in annual consumer spending, 7.6 million U.S. jobs, $65.3 billion in federal tax revenue, and another $59.2 billion in state and local tax revenue. In Colorado alone, the industry generates a whopping $13.2 billion in annual consumer spending, 125,000 jobs, $4.2 billion in wages and salaries, and $994 million in state and local tax revenue.
The release of the report comes on the heels of the recent passing of the bipartisan Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact Act of 2016 (REC Act), which requires the Department of Commerce to annually measure the outdoor recreation economy and the industry’s contribution to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP). This law and associated data, along with the OIA report, now brings the size and scope of America’s outdoor recreation economy into the national spotlight. It also provides leaders with a better understanding of the industry's role in the nation’s economic health, and will hopefully serve as a tool to help lawmakers protect and invest in policy that grows the infrastructure on which the outdoor recreation economy is built.
It is no secret that one key piece of infrastructure driving the outdoor recreation economy and industry are our nation’s public lands. In Colorado alone, we are fortunate enough to have roughly 23 million acres of federally-owned public land at our fingertips and another countless millions of acres of public parks, trails, and open spaces managed by various other municipalities. Our public lands are our lifeblood and identity. They are our escape, our place of adventure, our solitude. In 1910, President Theodore Roosevelt said the following, “The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets that it must turn over to the next generation increased, and not impaired, in value.”
What the OIA report clearly demonstrates is the outdoor recreation industry is growing. From this, one can extrapolate this to mean that our population is also growing as more people move to towns and cities that boast their natural assets and quality of life, and increasingly choose to partake in outdoor recreation activities on public lands. It is expected that Colorado’s population will double by the year 2050.
What this means is the conservation and protection of our public natural landscapes is more important than ever before. At RMFI, we work day in and day out to protect our public lands so that future generations have the ability to enjoy them just as we get to. We actively educate and engage thousands of community volunteers and youth conservation corps members every year through the completion of hands-on trail and restoration projects that help to conserve and protect the public landscapes that truly define our community and region. Places like Garden of the Gods, Pikes Peak, Barr Trail, Cheyenne Mountain State Park, Red Rock Canyon Open Space, and so much more. Our stewardship model centers on community engagement as a means of connecting people to the outdoors, promoting an active and healthy lifestyle, creating stronger and more resilient communities, and fostering an ethic of environmental responsibility and stewardship. Please join us out on a volunteer workday or consider contributing financially to support our important work! And while we're at it, check out the new Pikes Peak Outdoor Recreation Alliance (PPORA) that's formed to unite the business and nonprofit sectors in promoting and stewarding our region's natural assets.
Interested in reading the full Outdoor Recreation Economy report? CLICK HERE!