New Study: The Economic Benefits of Our Outdoor Adventures
Your outdoor adventures have serious benefits for the state, too. A new study out today shows that outdoor recreation is a vital economic driver in Washington, generating $21.6 billion a year and almost 200,000 jobs.
Joy. Inspiration. Family. Fun. Fitness.
Those may be the reasons you hit Washington's trails, but your outdoor adventures have serious benefits for the state, too. A new study out today shows that outdoor recreation is a vital economic driver in Washington, generating $21.6 billion a year and almost 200,000 jobs (more than either employers in information technology or the aerospace industry).
A powerful economic force
The study, prepared for the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office by Earth Economics, at the direction of the Legislature led by Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, is the first comprehensive analysis of the recreation economy in Washington. It offers economic impact data both by geography, by county and by activity.
“It’s no secret that we live in the most beautiful state in the union and that Washington’s natural splendor is an enormous economic generator,” says Sen. Ranker. “Until now, however, we didn’t fully understand just how powerful an economic force outdoor recreation is. We must not only continue to invest in the protection of our great outdoors, we must support and invest the hundreds of thousands of jobs that depend up it.”
A clear case for investing in trail systems and public lands
The report is packed full of interesting data about our collective outdoor habits (Washingtonians spend, on average 56 days a year playing outdoors) and how our outdoor play time helps connect urban and rural communities while bolstering the economy.
The study also makes a strong case for creating more sustainable funding for local, state and federal public lands. The vast majority of outdoor recreation in Washington happens on public lands, so it makes good economic sense to keep these resources healthy and accessible while investing in the creation of new recreation opportunities.
"Folks in Washington know that outdoor recreation—hiking, camping and snowshoeing—is a big part of our lives; this report goes a step further to show how important outdoor recreation is not just for people, but for our state's economy," says Karen Daubert, Executive Director at WTA. "All of that economic activity is dependent upon a healthy, well-managed system of trails and other recreation facilities on public lands. By investing in the outdoors, it not only pays dividends for our state's fiscal heath but ensures that the next generation of hikers have the opportunity to experience what makes Washington so special as well."
Explore the economics of the recreation economy
Download and read the full report [PDF]
This report supports the work of the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Parks and Outdoor Recreation, which recommended 12 actions to be taken in the near future to increase participation in outdoor recreation and the resulting social and economic benefits. Read the task force report.