The Center for American Progress today joined with outdoor recreation companies and conservation organizations to launch a campaign calling on the federal government to measure the economic impact of outdoor recreation. The Count My Job campaign launched with the release of a CAP issue brief outlining the impact that the outdoor recreation industry—and the public lands and waters that support it—has on economic growth.
The outdoor recreation industry now employs more Americans than several extractive industries, including mining, timber, and oil and gas drilling. Although trade associations, state governments, and academics have measured specific impacts of outdoor recreation on the economy, including the effects on employment, public health, and quality of life, the federal government does not measure or track these outputs as it does the outputs of other economic sectors.
“Outdoor recreation is not only a powerful and fast-growing sector, but the appeal of nearby public lands and waters provides communities with a competitive advantage to attract new businesses and high-skill workers,” said Matt Lee-Ashley, Director of Public Lands at the Center for American Progress. “It is time that the government account for the jobs and economic value that are flowing from America’s growing outdoor recreation industry.”
“Outdoor businesses provide billions of dollars in direct impact at the local, state, and federal levels,” said Steve Barker, interim executive director of the Outdoor Industry Association, also the title sponsor of the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market trade show that kicked off in Salt Lake City, Utah, today. “Our industry has become a vital contributor to the U.S. economy, and the government should recognize and record the economic benefits of outdoor recreation and of the protected land and water on which the outdoor industry relies.”
“The overall size and influence of Utah’s recreation economy in conjunction with more than 25,000 attendees in town this week for the Outdoor Retailer trade show demonstrate just how powerful this industry is,” said Brad Petersen, director of the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation. “Outdoor recreation is a critical component our state’s economy, and we must ensure that every contribution is properly identified and counted.”
Also supported by the Outdoor Alliance, Public Lands Solutions, and the Center for Western Priorities, the Count My Job effort will, over the coming months, highlight the economic impact of America’s outdoor economy and encourage the U.S. government to measure the outdoor recreation industry as a sector of the economy.
“There’s a lie going around that the best way to grow our economy and create jobs is to pump more oil and gas from the ground,” said Hans Cole, Patagonia environmental campaigns and advocacy manager. “Outdoor recreation plays a huge role in supporting our economy. We owe it to ourselves and the future of our planet to count the jobs our industry supports and use the results as a tool in fighting to protect the places we love.”
“In Moab and hundreds of other gateway communities around the country, public lands are an economic driver that support countless recreational opportunities and strengthen the local economy,” said Ashley Korenblat, CEO of Western Spirit Cycling in Moab, Utah. “My employees should have their contributions to a growing economic sector fully recognized by the federal government.”
Read the issue brief here.