Washington, D.C. – Protecting and promoting great urban parks and treasured landscapes, and reconnecting Americans to the land through outdoor recreation drew strong support from leaders in the outdoor industry attending the White House Conference on America’s Great Outdoors Friday. The Obama administration organized the event to tout a national conservation and recreation initiative as good for Americans and America.
Spotlighting the link between America’s Great Outdoors and economic recovery, President Obama said, “Conservation is not contrary to economic growth. It is an integral part to economic growth.”
The president pledged to get Americans active and outdoors and to “encourage young people to hike and bike and get outside more often.” And in support of active Americans, the president called for a “new generation of community and urban parks.”
The president stated that launching America’s Great Outdoors is “the right thing to do for our economy. It’s how we’re going to spur job creation in the tourism industry and the recreation industry. It’s how we’ll create jobs preserving and maintaining our forests, our rivers, our great outdoors.”
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar emphasized the benefits of reconnecting Americans to the outdoors. Public lands, protected areas, parks and open space promote physical and mental health; enhance quality of life, build communities, attract employment; and support tourism-related jobs and a burgeoning recreation economy. According to a Department of the Interior 2009 report, annually, “…federal parks, refuges and monuments generate more than $24 billion in recreation and tourism” across the American economy.
“Outdoor recreation and active lifestyles promote healthy Americans and build our economy,” said Sam Solomon, president of The Coleman Company. “Getting active and outdoors – biking in Central Park or camping in the Rocky Mountains – benefits people, families and communities. The health of our industry shows that public lands and recreation are powerful economic drivers in cities and communities across America.”
Outdoor industry research cited during the conference validates protected lands and waters, and outdoor recreation as key economic drivers. “Active outdoor recreation, including hunting, fishing, camping, climbing, hiking, paddling, back-country skiing, mountain biking, wildlife viewing, and other activities, drives a total of $730 billion in annual economic activity across the U.S. and supports 6.5 million jobs,” according to Frank Hugelmeyer, President of the Outdoor Industry Association, who attended Friday’s conference. “In the West, more than 43 million people participate in hunting, fishing, and wildlife viewing each year, spending over $33 billion annually.”
According to the OIA 2006 Active Outdoor Recreation Economy Report, active outdoor recreation generates:
· $88 billion in annual federal and state tax revenues
· $289 billion in annual retail sales and services
Industry representatives attending the America’s Great Outdoors Conference:
· Sally Jewell, president & CEO, REI, conference panelist
· Will Manzer, CEO, Eastern Mountain Sports
· Sam Solomon, president & CEO, The Coleman Company
· Dan Templin, VP & CFO, VF Outdoor, Inc. (Vanity Fair)
· Frank Hugelmeyer, president & CEO, Outdoor Industry Association
Sally Jewell served on a panel entitled “connecting people to our lands water and wildlife”. Jewell reinforced to the audience the $730 billion contribution that outdoor recreation makes to the U.S. economy and the importance of connecting children to the landscape.