Consider This: Utah’s Outdoor Recreation Economy is Thriving

Pete CodellaArticles

With towering red rocks and snowy mountains, Utah is known worldwide for its wondrous beauty. It’s clear that Mother Nature played favorites with our state, and it provides an 84,899-square-mile product testing lab for a thriving outdoor industry.

Visitors find incredible recreation opportunities in our Mighty Five ® national parks, Greatest Snow on Earth ® and beyond. In the 2016 season, the state’s 14 ski resorts saw a record-breaking 4.5 million skier days. Utah’s national and state parks have enjoyed double digit growth in visitation year-over-year for the last four years. The tourism, travel and recreation economy contributed $8.17 billion to Utah’s economy in 2015, generating $1.15 billion in state and local tax revenue—in other words, approximately $1,269 in tax relief per Utah household.

Revenue and visitor numbers tell us recreation is alive and well in Utah, but to our residents, outdoor recreation is a way of life. Utah ranks No. 1 in the nation for healthy behaviors, and more than 72 percent of Utah residents participate in recreational activities. Gov. Herbert created the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation, the first of its kind, in 2013 to support Utah’s outdoor industry and promote a healthy recreation lifestyle statewide. Utah’s outdoor industry receives unique support from the state, and the resulting business environment is a magnet for more and more outdoor companies.

Big names such as Vista Outdoor, which encompasses 50 brands, have their global headquarters here. Salt Lake City and Park City have long been associated with the outdoor industry, but the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and others have noticed the growth further north. World-class companies such as Amer Sports, Osprey Packs, Rossignol and ENVE put Ogden on the map as a major outdoor products hub.

The state doesn’t take lightly its role as an outdoor industry leader. Earlier this year, the State Legislature created the Outdoor Recreation Grant, which is expected to generate up to $5 million each year for the next five years to support recreation infrastructure statewide. The state also invests more than $2 million in general funds each year for watershed and habitat restoration efforts, and the Department of Wildlife Resources works with non-profit conservation groups to provide an additional $2 million. Since 2005, the Utah has restored more than 1.3 million acres, the vast majority of which are located on federal public lands.

Mother Nature indeed played favorites with Utah. In gratitude for that, we are committed to preserving our lands and supporting our outdoor recreation economy for the benefit of future generations.