START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good

Good News: Playing Outside is Incredibly Profitable

Good News: Playing Outside is Incredibly Profitable

Written by Jessica Goad

The outdoor recreation economy is big business in America. Data released today by the Outdoor Industry Association show the fiscal impacts of recreation in all 50 states, from consumer spending to direct jobs to wages and salaries. The top five states for consumer spending on outdoor recreation are: California ($85.4 billion), Florida ($38.3 billion), New York ($33.8 billion), Texas ($28.7 billion), and Georgia ($23.3 billion).

Additionally, every state in the union benefits from between 28,000 direct jobs (North Dakota) to 732,000 direct jobs (California) in the industry.

In total, outdoor recreation provides $646 billion in economic impacts and 6.1 million direct jobs every year (three times that of the oil and gas industry). These data incorporate the various sectors the outdoor recreation industry relies on, including manufacturing, retail and sales, transportation and warehousing, and accommodation and services near outdoor recreation sites.

A number of western state legislatures are attempting to “reclaim” federal public lands in order to exploit their resources more easily. But Frank Hugelmeyer, CEO of the Outdoor Industry Association, noted that for the industry’s economic influence to increase, political leaders must balance the use of public lands for energy while implementing policies that protect them:

Outdoor recreation is good for the American economy and our future. When we invest in the nation’s network of public lands and waters, we are protecting and enhancing outdoor experiences for the benefit of the thousands of businesses, communities and families whose livelihoods depends on the outdoor recreation economy.

More than 140 million Americans participate in some sort of outdoor activity every year. While the value of such recreation has long been suspected, only in the last several years has it actually been quantified. As Greg Hanscom writes in Grist:

After decades of being blown off as dirty hippie backpacker types, [environmentalists]  can finally declare, with a straight face and data to back them up, that protecting the public lands from oil and gas drilling and other ecological insults is not just the right thing to do — it’s also good for business.

The release of today’s data is also notable because just last week, President Obama nominated Sally Jewell, CEO of outdoor retailer REI, to be his new Secretary of the Interior. Jewell has been an impassioned advocate for the value of this industry, and many expect her to continue to make the business case for conservation when she takes the reins of the Interior Department.

Making strides on permanently protecting public lands will be an important priority for both Congress and the administration over the next few years, especially in the midst of our current energy boom. The Center for American Progress recently released data showing the Obama administration has leased 2.5 more acres to oil and gas companies than it has permanently protected.

The economic case for putting energy and conservation on equal ground has never been clearer, as data like those released today show.

This post was originally published by ClimateProgress.


Related Stories:

Global Warming Causing Nasty Weather? Go Inside and Turn On the Air Conditioning

Young People Want to Work Outside in an Online Age

Are Parents to Blame if Their Children are Couch Potatoes?


Read more: , , ,


have you shared this story yet?

some of the best people we know are doing it


+ add your own
12:17PM PDT on May 15, 2013

We have certainly spent plenty on outdoor stuff this year, rubber mulch, seed, stain for the swingset and deck, fixing the grill, outdoor furniture. But it's all been worth it

7:44PM PDT on Apr 3, 2013

Especially on the IMMATERIAL side!!!

7:23AM PDT on Apr 2, 2013

Thank you ClimateProgress, for Sharing this!

7:52AM PST on Feb 21, 2013


6:22AM PST on Feb 20, 2013


5:08AM PST on Feb 20, 2013

Chrysta you are so right, I hardly ever see any kids in our area outside playing and when I do see them they are on an iPad or DS etc... Sad. Thankfully my parents loved the great outdoors so I did too.

11:07AM PST on Feb 19, 2013

As long as politicians take bribes from those entites that prosper from environmental degradation, a significant committment from the political is doubtful.

10:43AM PST on Feb 19, 2013


4:46AM PST on Feb 19, 2013

Eco tourism is also on the rise which is good to see. It will help educate a lot of people to what needs to be done to help save our enviroment. like my friend says.....get them off the concrete and they will see the beauty for themselves.

4:12AM PST on Feb 19, 2013

Jobs for poor to middle class persons who really need the money are much more important than corporate profits for the filthy rich to get even richer from.

add your comment

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

Care2 - Be Extraordinary - Start a Care2 Petition
ads keep care2 free

Recent Comments from Causes

I cannot believe that someone could be so clueless as to the harm that has been done to this state. …

That is the calmest puppy I have ever seen. I couldn't believe the only ones moving around were the…

Do you REALLY want to know what I think ?? Maybe an apology from Seaworld,, and the release of ALL…

ads keep care2 free

more from causes

Select names from your address book   |   Help

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.