Late last year, Congress passed and President Obama signed legislation that will help document the economic impact of outdoor recreation nationwide. The Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact Act directs the Secretary of Commerce, working in cooperation with the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture, to conduct an assessment of the contribution of outdoor recreation to the total U.S. economy. Previous assessments, including by the Outdoor Industry Association, estimate that outdoor recreation generates $646 billion in economic activity annually and supports approximately 6 million jobs.
Conserving natural resources is important for many reasons, but it is important to also demonstrate the economic value of conservation and a healthy environment. A thriving outdoor recreation economy depends on abundant fish and wildlife, clean water and air, and a public lands base that is accessible to all Americans. Documenting this very positive economic impact helps to make a stronger case for conservation and sustainable management of natural resources.