While outdoor recreation has long been vital to the Colorado economy, a new report says the same is true nationwide. The Boulder-based Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) says outdoor recreation generates $887 billion and supports 7.6 million jobs.
The association has produced three reports since 2008. Executive director Amy Roberts says having economic data about the industry has allowed OIA members to better advocate with lawmakers.
“The reports changed the dialogue for us,” Roberts says. “We weren’t just going in and making a case for conservation or preserving nature just for the intrinsic value. And while that’s still there, we were also able to come in as a business voice and say preserving public lands, building recreation infrastructure, investing in green spaces, actually has a huge economic pay off, and we’re able to quantify it.”
According to Roberts, supporting the outdoor industry is a bipartisan. It includes such a wide range of activities, such as camping, fishing, backpacking and snow sports. The Outdoor Industry Association has 12-hundred members ranging from retailers, to travel companies, to recreation areas.
Last week some of those members, from the CEO of sports outfitter REI to local shop owners and travel agents, traveled to D.C. to present the findings of the report.
“We really bring the ability to bring an economic argument around the importance of managing [public] lands,” Roberts says. “To make sure that people are able to go out and enjoy them and that they’re preserved for future generations.”
Roberts says the data from the report -- especially that the industry supports 7.6 million jobs -- helps show policy makers the importance of outdoor recreation for the overall economy.
“That’s really a powerful argument when you’re going in and talking with either members of Congress or the Trump administration, which is very focused on job creation,” Roberts says.
She says that moving forward, the association will look for more opportunities to interact with lawmakers at local, state and federal levels. OIA is also in the process of collecting and analyzing data for individual states.