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Outdoor Recreation as an Economic Engine

June 30, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

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Millions of Americans and Canadians take pleasure in the pursuit of enjoyment in the outdoors.

Sabino Canyon is a natural desert oasis located in Tucson’s Coronado National Forest and is home to spectacular desert landscapes and abundant wildlife. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Sabino Canyon is a natural desert oasis located in Tucson’s Coronado National Forest and is home to spectacular desert landscapes and abundant wildlife. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But we rarely consider the economic impact of the outdoor recreation industry on local communities and the entire country.

Newly released information from three separate and diverse studies provides a revealing look at the outdoor recreation industry as an economic engine that employs millions of Americans and Canadians and contributes billions of dollars to the economy.

These studies were commissioned or conducted by the Outdoor Industry Association, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the National Park Service.

The Conservation Economy in America, commissioned by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and conducted by Southwick Associates, reports the economic impacts of direct investments into conservation: jobs, tax revenues, and other dividends produced by state, federal, and private conservation funding.

This study provides a revealing look at America’s economic stake in conservation, totaling the total public and private investments in fish, wildlife, and natural resources conservation at $38.8 billion per year—money that, once spent, circulates through the economy and stimulate an impressive $93.2 billion in economic activity.

The study’s implications regarding the role of natural resource conservation in the broader U.S. economy are considerable. For example, Outdoor Industry Association (OIA), the trade association for companies in the outdoor recreation business, has commissioned a number of groundbreaking studies that examine consumer spending in the pursuit of outdoor recreation activities.

“When these new conservation-focused figures are combined with OIA data, as well as with similar data for historic preservation, the relationship is clear: Our $38.8 billion investment in conservation forms the underpinnings of an economic boon for the US through subsequent spending related to outdoor recreation and historic preservation, which are largely dependent on sound natural resources stewardship,” said Katherine K. McKalip, director of media relations for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.

Biking, hiking, and exploring Red Rock Country by Jeep are popular outdoor recreational activities in the Sedona area. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Biking, hiking, and exploring Red Rock Country by Jeep are popular outdoor recreational activities in the Sedona area. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The study has commanded the attention of America’s Voice for Conservation, Recreation and Preservation (AVCRP), a coalition of more than 1,200 organizations representing citizens with diverse political backgrounds who have united in support of conservation, recreation, and historic preservation programs as a way to create jobs and improve the economy.

The AVCRP coalition drew data from the new study and combined existing information to showcase the following finding:

  • $1.7 trillion – Total economic impact attributed to natural resource conservation, outdoor recreation, and historic preservation in the US, $1.6 trillion of which is derived from consumer dollars spent on outdoor recreation activities as it circulates through the economy as quantified by OIA.

These rounds of spending also create additional impacts:

  • $211 billion – Federal, state, and local tax revenue generated annually from this sustainable economy
  • 12.8 million – Number of jobs supported by these three sectors
  • $877 billion – Combined contribution to the United State gross domestic product from these three sectors
  • $33.3 billion – Total annual federal spending on natural resource conservation, outdoor recreation, and historic preservation that helps generate this $1.7 trillion economy

“Conservation has always been a strong economic driver, and this new data reinforces that fact,” said Ducks Unlimited CEO Dale Hall.

“When Americans pursue their favorite outdoor pastimes each year, they support wildlife conservation but also are strengthening our economy to a much greater degree than they may realize. Investing in conservation is a great deal for the American taxpayer.”
“Investments in nature produce a great return, and the bottom line is clear—America’s natural resources are a critical part of our national economy,” said Mark R. Tercek, president and CEO of The Nature Conservancy.

“Our environmental health is directly related to our economic well-being, among other benefits. As a result, even in this time of budget austerity, the federal government can and should address the federal deficit while still investing in critical conservation programs.”

Please Note: This is Part 1 of a 3-part series

Part 2: National Parks as an Economic Engine

Part 3: Discover a New Reason to Love the Outdoors

Worth Pondering…

I only went for a walk, and finally concluded to stay till sundown, for going out, I found,

was really going in.

—John Muir

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If you enjoy these articles and want to read more on RV travels and lifestyle, visit my website: Vogel Talks RVing.

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