ORR, NGA Launch Outdoor Recreation Learning Network To Promote Economic Growth Through The Outdoor Industry

Jul 24, 2019

The National Governors Association (NGA) today announced the launch of the Outdoor Recreation Learning Network – of which the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR) is a founding sponsor – to help governors and their staff leverage their states’ unique natural, cultural and historical outdoor recreation resources to advance economic, workforce, health and environmental benefits.

"ORR is proud to partner with the National Governors Association to launch the game-changing Outdoor Recreation Learning Network,” said Jessica Wahl, executive director of the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable. “This partnership will ensure that the outdoor recreation sector has the support it needs at the state and local level to continue to grow, providing jobs, outdoor access for all, and health and quality of life benefits for generations to come."

ORR has been working with states across the country to set up Offices of Outdoor Recreation. Thanks in large part to the actions of ORR members, and our partners Outdoor Industry Association and REI, fifteen states across the country now have outdoor recreation offices or task forces dedicated to growing this essential part of the economy by increasing collaboration, investment and more. In the past few months, Nevada, New Mexico, Virginia and Wisconsin established their own Offices of Outdoor Recreation.

To promote these offices and provide support and coordination for the creation of new offices, the NGA Center for Best Practices will partner with state outdoor recreation directors to convene governors, their staff and other state officials. Through peer-to-peer exchanges, the network will spotlight strategies states can use to advance outdoor recreation. It will focus on key issue areas, including conservation, stewardship, education, workforce training, economic development, infrastructure, public health, equity and wellness.

“Utah launched the first state outdoor recreation office in 2013 to focus on recreation management, support recreation businesses and ensure that our state’s cherished natural assets can sustain economic growth for years to come,” said Utah Governor Gary Herbert, who noted that outdoor recreation contributes $12.3 billion to the Utah economy and employs more than 110,000 people. “NGA’s Outdoor Recreation Learning Network will help other states replicate our success while tailoring it to their own circumstances and needs.”

Governors launched the network at NGA’s annual Summer Meeting in Salt Lake City, where state leaders share best practices and hear from experts in various fields. In addition to Gov. Herbert, participants included Maine Governor Janet Mills, Montana Governor Steve Bullock, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, Oregon Governor Kate Brown, Vermont Governor Phil Scott and outdoor recreation directors from many states.

“NGA’s decision to create an initiative solely focused on supporting and expanding outdoor recreation opportunities across the country is an ironclad endorsement of our industry’s rapidly increasing economic significance,” said Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association. “The Outdoor Recreational Learning Network will provide states with vital resources to help our industry – and cherished American pastimes – continue to thrive and we thank NGA for leading the way on outdoor recreation issues.”

"Fifteen state governments have established high-level staff positions or task forces to focus on increasing outdoor recreation opportunities and fostering the growth of outdoor industries, including bicycling," said PeopleForBikes president Tim Blumenthal. "The Outdoor Recreation Learning Network will ensure success for these recently designated leaders and the many who will follow by establishing best practices and facilitating information sharing."

“The RV industry applauds the launch of the Outdoor Recreation Learning Network and the commitment NGA is making to recognize the strength of the outdoor recreation economy and prioritize its continued growth,” said Craig Kirby, interim president of the RV Industry Association. “The learning network represents an unprecedented opportunity not only for outdoor recreation as a whole but for the 30,000 RV business across the nation who contribute $114 billion to the US economy, support 600,000 jobs and pay over $32 billion in wages.”

“The powersports industry, including motorcycles, ATVs and ROVs (known as side-by-sides), is a $40 billion industry in the U.S.,” said Tim Buche, president of the Motorcycle Industry Council. “The Motorcycle Industry Council salutes our nation’s governors for their commitment to preserving access to public lands for responsible riding opportunities that generate billions of dollars in state and local revenue.”

“The sportfishing industry is excited for the Outdoor Recreational Learning Network to help states better collaborate on strategies for improving outdoor recreation,” said Glenn Hughes, president of the American Sportfishing Association. “Recreational fishing consistently ranks as one of the most popular outdoor recreation activities, with 49 million recreational fishermen supporting over 800,000 jobs and contributing $125 billion annually to the economy.”

The founding sponsors of the Outdoor Recreation Learning Network also include REI Inc. and the Outdoor Industry Association.

For more information about the Outdoor Recreation Learning Network, click here, or contact James Nash at jnash@nga.org. To learn more about the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable, click here