STATE OFFICES OF OUTDOOR RECREATION
STATES WITH OFFICES OF OUTDOOR RECREATION
Washington’s outdoor recreation lead was created via legislation in 2015. Jon Snyder serves as Senior Policy Advisor for Outdoor Recreation and Economic Development within the office of the governor who is charged with serving as the state lead on economic development issues relating to the outdoor recreation sector in Washington.
Oregon’s Office of Outdoor Recreation was created through legislation in 2017. The office is charged with coordinating the state’s outdoor recreation policy across agencies, between public and private sectors, and in cooperation with organizations that have a vested interest in seeing Oregon’s outdoor recreation reach its fullest potential in every corner of the state. The office will also supplement and amplify agencies already doing this work. Cailin O’Brien-Feeney has served as Oregon’s Director of Outdoor Recreation since 2018.
Utah was the first state to create a position, via gubernatorial action then codified through legislation, dedicated to the outdoor recreation industry in 2013. Directed by Pitt Grewe and housed in the Utah’s Office of Economic Development, the Office of Outdoor recreation’s mission is to coordinate outdoor recreation policy, management, and promotion among local, state and federal agencies; promote economic development; recommend and help implement policies and initiatives to enhance recreational amenities and experiences; develop data; and promote the health and social benefits of outdoor recreation.
Colorado’s Outdoor Recreation Industry Office, created by gubernatorial action in 2015, is tasked with championing industry, communities, and people to come to life through Colorado’s great outdoors. The office is in Colorado’s Office of Economic and International Trade. Nathan Fey was appointed Director in 2019.
Wyoming’s office began as a task force created by the governor in 2016 to study and make recommendations on the state’s outdoor recreation needs. That study recommended the creation of an office, and in 2020 Chris Floyd took over as Administrator of the Outdoor Recreation Office. The office is part of Wyoming’s Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources and is tasked with planning and developing outdoor recreation resources for the state with an eye toward growing the outdoor recreation sector of Wyoming’s economy.
Montana Governor Steve Bullock proposed the creation of an Office of Outdoor Recreation during his 2016 gubernatorial campaign. In 2017, Rachel Schmidt took over as Director of Outdoor Recreation and with the objectives of increasing the visibility and economic activity of Montana’s outdoor recreation and related goods and services, and to firmly establish that Montana’s clean air, clean water and access to public lands and rivers are an economic driver that attracts businesses to relocate to the state.
Through an inclusion in the state budget in 2017, North Carolina created the position of Outdoor Recreation an Recruitment Director to promote economic development in outdoor-based recreation and manufacturing statewide. Amy Allison has served as Director since 2019.
Created by executive order in 2018, Maine’s office of outdoor recreation is directed by Carolann Ouellette and is housed in the Department of Economic and Community Development. The office will focus on leveraging Maine’s assets and outdoor recreation heritage to grow the outdoor recreation economy and build Maine’s outdoor recreation brand as part of a coordinated effort with partners from the public and private sectors.
Created by legislation in the 2019 legislative session, New Mexico’s Outdoor Recreation Division will be tasked with increasing outdoor-recreation-based economic development, tourism and ecotourism, recruiting new outdoor businesses to relocate to New Mexico, and promoting education about outdoor recreation’s benefits to enhance public health. The bill that created the Outdoor Recreation Division also creates an Outdoor Equity Grant Program to ensure disadvantaged youth have access to the benefits and experiences realized by recreating outdoors. Axie Navas was named New Mexico’s first Director of the Office of Outdoor Recreation in September 2019.
What began as a task force now operates as a joint project (under a memorandum of understanding) of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Brad Garmon has been director since Sept. 2019. The office will expand the outdoor recreation economy in Michigan and build awareness about the importance and value of the businesses that comprise Michigan’s outdoor recreation industry and will collaborate with industry partners to identify and anticipate emerging recreation trends. The office will also promote outdoor recreation activities across the state and create support for the stewardship of Michigan’s natural resources.
The Division of Outdoor Recreation will oversee the development of business in Nevada’s outdoor recreation economy and preserving natural resources for outdoor recreation. Collectively, the administrators are tasked with promoting the growth of Nevada’s outdoor recreation economy, advocating on behalf of Nevada for federal funding, coordinate recreation policy among local, state and federal government entities, promote the health and social benefits of outdoor recreation, and promote engagement in the outdoors among diverse communities. Colin Robertson was appointed administrator of the Division in January 2020.
Mary Monroe Brown has been director since early 2020.
Located within the Department of Tourism, Wisconsin’s Office of Outdoor Recreation was created when Governor Tony Evers signed the state’s biennial budget. The office will work to amplify the efforts of the Department of Natural Resources and Travel Wisconsin, protect natural resources in the state while supporting and growing the state’s $17.9 billion recreation economy.
Virginia’s Office of Outdoor Recreation was created by Governor Ralph Northam through executive order in 2019. The office will be under the direction of the Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade, Cassidy Rasnick, in partnership with Secretary of Natural Resources, Matt Strickler. Together and with staff from multiple state agencies, they will work on economic development, talent attraction and retention as well as improving quality of life through the lens of outdoor recreation.
New Hampshire’s office of outdoor recreation began as bipartisan legislation in the state senate that was eventually incorporated in the state’s biennial budget. After the budget was vetoed by Governor Sununu, legislators had a 3-month window for negotiations and compromise with the Governor. In October 2019 a $13 billion budget was passed that included funding for the Office of Outdoor Recreation Industry Development.
Minnesota’s Outdoor Recreation Task Force is made up of 20 stakeholders representing specialty outdoor retail, outdoor manufacturing, local tourism entities, recreation user groups and groups dedicated to increasing outdoor experiences for children. The Task Force will develop recommendations for Minnesota’s Dept. of Natural Resources, Explore Minnesota and Governor, for a plan to increase Minnesota’s outdoor recreation economy.
STATES WITH OUTDOOR RECREATION TASKS FORCES
The Vermont Outdoor Recreation Collaborative (VOREC) was established by executive order in 2017. VOREC serves as an advisor to the Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation and Agency of Commerce and Community Development. Michael Snyder serves as commissioner and chair of VOREC. The collaborative’s mission is to engage with businesses, government, the nonprofit sector and the public to identify specific outcomes that promote business opportunities, increase participation opportunities, and strengthen the quality and stewardship of Vermont’s recreational resources.
Maryland’s Outdoor Recreation Economic Commission was created via executive order in 2017. They are tasked with developing recommendations and an action plan to strengthen and enhance the business climate for the outdoor recreation industry; Maryland’s brand as a premier destination for outdoor recreation and heritage tourism; as well as stewardship of Maryland’s natural, cultural, historical, and recreational resources. The Commission is also tasked with developing recommendations and an action plan concerning opportunities for workforce development, and job creation in the outdoor recreation industry.