Congress Approves Legislation to Count Outdoor Recreation Economy

posted December 1, 2016
by Thomas O'Keefe

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In a strong statement of bipartisan support for the value of the outdoor recreation economy, the Senate and House have now both unanimously passed legislation that will count outdoor recreation jobs as part of Gross Domestic Product. These jobs include those provided by gear manufacturers, service providers, and retailers that support outdoor recreation experiences including whitewater recreation.
The Outdoor REC Act was introduced in the Senate by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) where it passed on November 28th and in the House by Representatives Dave Reichert (WA-8) and Donald Beyer (VA-8) where it passed on November 14th. Now the bill heads to the President’s Desk.
The bill directs the Department of Commerce to enter into a joint memorandum with the Department of Agriculture and the Department of the Interior to conduct, acting through the Bureau of Economic Analysis, an assessment and analysis of the outdoor recreation economy of the United States and the effects attributable to it on the overall U.S. economy.
Through their Outdoor Recreation Economy Report, the Outdoor Industry Association has shown for years that outdoor recreation provides real economic benefits with the most recent report documenting $646 billion in consumer spending that supports 6.1 million jobs. Passage of this legislation demonstrates recognition of the importance of this economic sector by the federal government. Federal data on the economic benefits of outdoor recreation will inform policy decisions concerning land and river management across the country. 
The increased relevancy of outdoor recreation as an economic sector, will support our ability to advocate for conservation of whitewater resources and enhancements to public access that support our sport and the economic benefits it provides to local communities across the country.
Thomas O'Keefe
3537 NE 87th St.
Seattle, WA 98115
Phone: 425-417-9012