Colorado, Utah, and Washington, all states where the outdoor industry makes important economic contributions, have an Office of Outdoor Recreation. Now Oregon is trying to pass a bill to establish their own, while California and New Mexico are considering the idea.
But what exactly do these agencies do and why do these three states want them so badly? Falling under the umbrella of the State Parks and Recreation Department, the Office of Outdoor Recreation would both support the outdoor industry as well as enhance and increase outdoor recreation opportunities. For example, officials could find ways to make recreation jobs year-round positions and increase efficiency in funding for infrastructure. (Utah already has a grant program to that end.)
An agency such as this can have a positive impact on state economies. The outdoor industry already contributes about $12 billion to Oregon’s economy, but establishing an Office of Outdoor Recreation could help grow that number. Promoting the outdoor industry helps diversify a state’s economy by moving away from crash-prone industries like real estate, and it creates jobs. It also fosters environmental protection, since it’s in the industry’s best interests to keep natural habitats from deteriorating.
Oregon’s House Bill 3350 may have a tough time passing this year due to budgetary concerns, but the precedent is set and the benefits compelling.