Secretary Jewell Announces Federal Government to Count Outdoor Recreation Economy

Interior Secretary announces that the federal government will launch an initiative to measure and quantify the outdoor industry’s impact on the U.S. economy for the first time.

By Amy Roberts April 19, 2016

Today, at a widely attended event at National Geographic headquarters here in Washington, D.C., Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced that the federal government will launch an initiative to measure and quantify the outdoor industry’s impact on the U.S. economy. This is the first time the federal government will be quantifying the outdoor recreation sector in its jobs and economic impact report, and that’s an incredible win for our industry!  
 
Currently, the U.S. government counts other sectors — like oil and gas, ranching, manufacturing, travel and tourism and the arts — but until today’s announcement, it had yet to include outdoor recreation as a part of Gross Domestic Product reports. Outdoor Industry Association (OIA), however, has been quantifying the impact of the outdoor recreation industry on jobs, wages, taxes and spending in the United States for over a decade with the Outdoor Recreation Economy report and encouraging the administration and Congress to do the same.

We know from OIA’s economic report that the outdoor industry is a massive economic engine for the U.S. economy and economies in all 50 states. Today’s announcement by Secretary Jewell that the federal government will begin measuring and reporting outdoor recreation economy statistics is a step forward for our industry. Including outdoor recreation as part of U.S. GDP shows that leaders in Washington, D.C., agree that investing in outdoor recreation is an investment in America’s healthy communities and healthy economies. Our hope is that these numbers will be used by policymakers at the federal, state and local levels to invest in recreation infrastructure.

OIA will continue to release our economic report, with an updated version coming out in 2017, but with Secretary Jewell’s announcement today of a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Commerce to create a national Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account (ORSA) and a commitment of initial funding for this work, the federal government clearly understands that the outdoor industry and the outdoor recreation economy are not simply “nice to haves,” but are “must haves” to support healthy communities and healthy economies across the United States.
 
Today’s announcement also adds urgency to legislation pending in Congress that would make ORSA permanent. The Recreation’s Economic Contributions Act in the Senate and the Outdoor “REC” Act in the House were introduced by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Representatives Don Beyer (D-VA), Dave Reichert (R-WA), Peter Welch (D-VT) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), respectively. This bipartisan legislation is the central focus of next week’s OIA Capitol Summit, and passage of it is one of our highest priorities this year.
 
We hope you will join us in support of the government’s new effort to count the millions of jobs that depend on outdoor recreation in manufacturing and retailing, travel and tourism, hunting and angling, guiding and outfitting and other outdoor activities that pump billions of dollars into our economy.
 
You can help support the REC Act today.

Please contact Jessica Wahl with any questions. 

0