Bipartisan Lawmakers Encourage the American Economy to Get Outside

U.S. Representatives Don Beyer (D-VA), Dave Reichert (R-WA), Peter Welch (D-VA), and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) introduced legislation today that would require the federal government to measure the outdoor recreation industry’s impact on the U.S. economy. The Outdoor Recreation’s Economic Contributions (REC) Act would direct the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) to assess the outdoor industry’s contribution to job creation and consumer spending.

“Outdoor recreation is a cornerstone of the American experience and vital contributor to the economy,” said Rep. Don Beyer, between section hikes on the Appalachian Trail. “Measuring the outdoor industry’s economic impact will help guide policymakers’ decisions to strengthen national recreational policies. This knowledge will ultimately benefit Americans’ physical, environmental, and economic health.”

“With breathtaking natural treasures like Lake Chelan and Mt. Rainier, Washington State attracts outdoor enthusiasts from around the country and the world. Through hiring tour guides, buying outdoor apparel, and visiting many of our parks, outdoor enthusiasts generate significant revenue for the outdoor recreation economy, especially in Washington,” said Rep. Reichert. “The Outdoor REC Act will give this industry the clarity it needs to continue to expand, create jobs, and better serve those of us who cherish the outdoors.”

While the BEA does not currently measure the outdoor industry’s economic effects, independent estimates suggest that the industry may generate more than $600 billion in revenue.

“Vermont is a state of extraordinary natural beauty that provides multiple opportunities year-round for residents and tourists alike to enjoy the great outdoors. Outdoor recreation is a boost to the bottom lines of small businesses across Vermont and a key driver of our economy,” Rep. Peter Welch said. “The ability to quantify these benefits is essential so we can better support this vital sector of our economy.”

“Here in the Northwest, spending time outdoors in nature is a way of life. For many, it’s a big part of the reason we choose to live here, and it also is an economic driver,” Rep. McMorris Rodgers said. “In the west, there are 640 million acres of federal land. This land belongs to the people, and I believe it should be open to many types of activities — providing enjoyment and economic opportunity for local communities.”

Nearly half of the U.S. population participates in outdoor recreation endeavors every year, contributing to an estimated 6.1 million American jobs and $80 billion in local, state, and federal taxes.

“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 OIA Executive Director Amy Roberts. “We are encouraged that members of Congress are beginning to understand as well. We are grateful for the leadership of Congressman Beyer, Congressman Reichert, Congressman Welch, and Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers celebrate today’s introduction of the Recreation’s Economic Contributions (REC) Act in the House. With a bill in both the House and the Senate we have taken a big step forward in making sure that the federal government quantifies the economic importance of our industry and uses that data to inform the decisions that affect our businesses and the 142 million Americans who recreate outside each year.”

“Outdoor recreation creates jobs and economic opportunity in every state and in every corner of the country. From product innovation and retail to travel and tourism, it’s estimated the outdoor sector supports over 6 million jobs and almost $650 billion in GDP,” said Eric Artz, REI’s chief operating officer. “That’s bigger than either the domestic pharmaceutical or automotive industries. What’s more, outdoor businesses promote healthy lifestyles. We need the U.S. government to track these contributions and appreciate the bipartisan leaders of the REC Act who are committed to recognizing outdoor recreation as a strong piece of our economy.”

“Orvis is really excited to see the efforts around quantifying the economic benefit of outdoor recreation,” said Orvis’ Steve Hemkens, VP of Rod and Tackle and Orvis Adventures. “Given the fact that healthy ecosystems and access to our public lands are critical elements to our business success, we also firmly believe in creating stewards and advocates for healthy fish and wildlife habitats, access to our public lands, for a vision of commerce that is sustainable and will provide opportunities for future generations of outdoor enthusiasts and entrepreneurs.”

Full text of the legislation can be found here.

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