Outdoor Recreation Boosts Washington's Economy
According to the Outdoor Industry Association the outdoor industry in Washington State is responsible for $22.5 billion in direct sales, $7.1 billion in wages and salaries, $1.6 billion in tax revenues and 226,000 jobs.
Last Wednesday, the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) released a state-by-state breakdown of the economic benefits of outdoor recreation. The new data add more detail to a report on the national economic impact of outdoor recreation that the association released last year. The short story is that the outdoor industry in Washington State is responsible for $22.5 billion in direct sales, $7.1 billion in wages and salaries, $1.6 billion in tax revenues and 226,000 jobs. All of that economic activity is dependent upon a healthy, well-managed system of trails and other recreation facilities on public lands.
The picture this report paints is startling, but not unexpected. Some of the most successful outdoor retailers in the country are based here: REI, Outdoor Research, Marmot and the family of brands owned by Cascade Designs are all based in the Seattle area. And with three National Parks, a vast swathe of National Forest land, 120 State Parks and lovely Department of Natural Resources recreation areas, Washington attracts and keeps hikers like a magnet.
All of this recreation activity leads to jobs with both land management agencies and outdoor retailers, and tax revenues for gateway communities across the state. In a year when sequestration at the federal level and budget cuts at the state and local level might imperil recreation opportunities, it would behoove elected officials to take a long look at the benefits that all those hikers, equestrians, mountain bikers, family campers and birdwatchers provide to the state and consider the consequences of slashing budgets for land management agencies.