It seems like a no brainer to those of us who spend way to much money on gear, gas, SUVs, hotels, lift tickets, and so on. But the United States congress just passed legislation that would officially recognize outdoor recreation as a major contributor to the US economy.
The bipartisan Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact Act of 2016 directs the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis to “assess and analyze the outdoor recreation economy of the United States and the effects attributable to it on the overall U.S. economy.” President Obama is expected to sign the legislation, known as the REC Act, before he leaves office.
Supporters of the legislation say that quantifying the benefits of outdoor recreation will lead to better stewardship and conservation of public lands, as the outdoor recreation industry will be a consideration in the country’s economic math. The REC Act also gives the outdoor recreation industry a voice in federal policy matters that effect the industry, such as public land use and economic development.
“Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) and the thousands of manufacturers, retailers and service providers in the outdoor recreation industry, know about the hundreds of millions of dollars our industry contributes to the U.S. economy and the millions of jobs our businesses support,” said Outdoor Industry Association Executive Director Amy Roberts. “Today’s Senate passage of the REC Act shows that Republicans and Democrats in both chambers of Congress understand that as well.”
Environmental and outdoor recreation advocacy groups were also upbeat about the legislation. “By pumping $646 billion into the U.S. economy yearly, outdoor recreation accounts for a huge part of the nation’s economic engine, especially in communities near public lands,” said Michael Carroll, senior director of People Outdoors Program at The Wilderness Society. “The REC Act will ensure that this impact is measured and appreciated as part of America’s gross national product. Because millions of Americans seek out public lands for camping, boating, hiking and other outdoor recreation, we appreciate this formal recognition by Congress of its economic importance.”