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Latest: Outdoor recreation recognized as economic contributor

The Commerce Department affirms the growing clout of outdoor retailers.


The Trump administration, led by Utah’s congressional delegation, proposed unprecedented rollbacks to public-lands protections last winter. The outdoor recreation industry, which depends on public lands for survival, fought back. But it’s unclear how much political and economic clout the industry has (“Outdoor rec industry defends public lands,” HCN, 2/10/17). This winter, gear companies carried out their threat to move the renowned Outdoor Retailer show out of Salt Lake City. The multi-day event debuted in Denver in late January.


Now, the federal government has recognized outdoor recreation as an official industry. In early February, the Commerce Department announced that outdoor rec contributed more than $373 billion toward the gross domestic product in 2016, about 2 percent of the total. It’s the first time that the GDP report included separate figures on the industry’s value. “This further validates our broad and growing economic impact,” said Amy Roberts, executive director of the Outdoor Industry Association.