A new report by the Outdoor Industry Association shows outdoor recreation as a major economic driver, both nationally and locally.
The report revealed that outdoor recreation annually produces $887 billion in consumer spending, supports 7.6 million American jobs, and generates $65.3 billion in federal tax revenue.
This means Americans spend more annually on outdoor recreation than on pharmaceuticals and fuel combined. Additionally, Outdoor Industry Association reported more Americans are employed in fishing and hunting than in oil and gas extraction (483,000 versus 180,000).
Consumer spending also is in the billions for Washington state, home to outdoor retailers Eddie Bauer and REI. Plus, destinations like Mount Rainier National Park, Cape Disappointment State Park, and others, draw in millions of dollars from both residents and visitors alike.
A 2012 statewide report shows that outdoor recreation in Washington State generates $22.5 billion in consumer spending, 227,000 jobs, $7.1 billion in wages and salaries, and $1.6 billion in state and local tax revenue. State data for 2017 is coming soon.
The recent report from the Outdoor Industry Association was released at its Capitol Summit in Washington D.C., where outdoor recreation leaders gathered to encourage congressional support for the outdoor industry and public lands that make the industry possible.
This included Tom Vogl, former senior vice president for marketing at REI, who leads Seattle-based nonprofit The Mountaineers, which focuses on conservation of wild spaces and connecting people to the outdoors.
“Protecting public lands is key to sustaining outdoor recreation as an economic driver. These numbers reframe the conversation. Preserving wild places isn’t just about clean water, wildlife, and the joy of adventure. It’s also about supporting American jobs,” Vogl said.
The Outdoor Industry Association helps connect companies and nonprofits to advocate for public lands. This includes defending the Antiquities Act and Wilderness Act, securing long-term reauthorization for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and protecting public lands from privatization.
Outdoor Industry Association’s recent report can be viewed in full on the association’s website.