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Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact Act

Published: December 7, 2016

Outdoor RecreationA bill has been approved by the U.S. Senate that will include the economic impact of the outdoor industry in the federal government’s annual tally of the gross domestic product.

The Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact Act moved through the U.S. House with unanimous support and is now headed to the desk of President Barack Obama who is expected to sign the bill into law by the end of the year.

This new law is meant to recognize recreation as a viable economic producer on public lands similarly to industries such as agriculture, mining and timber. It is meant to help guide federal agencies’ budget and investment decisions involving public lands.

For the first time, makers of outdoor gear, retailers and recreation providers will be part of the federal government’s annual assessment of the national economy.


This is a big deal for the Outdoor Recreation Office and Colorado. This inclusion will show how much the outdoor industry influences the national economy and outdoor industry leaders will finally have hard numbers to back up their business.

It is expected that this new law will show recreation as a vital pillar to a strong economy.

For decades, recreation advocates have said in supporting the outdoor industry, it extends to economic and social issues that fuel outdoor play. Some main points of discussion have been about how outdoor activities contribute to health and wellness; how sustainable recreation helps preserve treasured public lands; how makers of outdoor gear play outsized roles in rural economies and how an area’s thriving outdoor lifestyle attracts employers.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis (which compiles industry contributions to the GDP) will have its work cut-out for themselves.

The bureau will consider recreation as a satellite account — like arts and culture or travel and tourism — that won’t necessarily change the nation’s final GDP tally in the way an industrial category, such as manufacturing or transportation, might.


The Outdoor Industry is a multibillion-dollar economic engine.  Americans spend more on outdoor play than they do on pharmaceuticals and home utilities combined.

In 2012, the Outdoor Industry Association reported that Americans drop $646 billion a year on outdoor recreation, supporting 6.1 million jobs and generating $80 billion in local, regional, state and national taxes.

The Boulder-based association’s report — the only industry measurement to date — showed outdoor recreation in Colorado spurring $13.2 billion in spending and supporting 124,600 workers. The association’s assessment of the outdoor industry shows a widespread reach into nearly every corner of the country’s economy, from product development and manufacturing to marketing, sales and tourism.

The purpose of this legislation will be to educate policymakers on the outdoor recreation industry’s contribution to our economy, including the number of jobs it’s responsible for and the amount of consumer spending it generates.

They hope there will be a shift in realizing this industry is not just important, it is essential to economic growth.


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