OLYMPIA - Gov. Jay Inslee will join a group of businesses, non-profit groups and public agencies in Olympia this week to highlight the message that outdoor recreation is an economic powerhouse that generates billions of dollars in business and tax revenue throughout the state of Washington.
Nearly three dozen Washington for-profit, non-profit and government organizations, known as The Big Tent Outdoor Coalition, have scheduled several events on Thursday, Feb. 13, in the lobby of the Natural Resources Building (NRB), 1111 Washington St. S.E., to focus on the importance of outdoor recreation. State agency participants will include the departments of Fish & Wildlife and Natural Resources, the Recreation and Conservation Office, and the State Parks and Recreation Commission.
At 11:15 a.m., Governor Inslee, several legislators and state agency leaders are scheduled to share their perspectives on the importance of the outdoor recreation sector to Washington's economy and quality of life. The Governor is expected to announce an initiative to promote the outdoor recreation and tourism sectors and to get more young people and families involved in outdoor activities.
Other activities will include informational displays from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the NRB, where the public and policymakers will have the opportunity to visit with representatives of several recreation groups and agencies. Later, coalition members will meet with legislators before attending a reception at the Governor's Mansion, hosted by the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition (WWRC).
"The Big Tent coalition is committed to raising public awareness about the incredible benefits that outdoor recreation brings to our state and its residents," said Doug Levy, a spokesman for the coalition who represents statewide parks, recreation and boating organizations. "The Outdoor Industry Association last year reported that Washington ranks sixth nationally in the number of outdoor recreation jobs, and that nearly two-thirds of Washingtonians participate in outdoor recreation each year."
The study concluded that $22.5 billion is spent annually in Washington on outdoor recreation, supporting 227,600 jobs and generating $1.6 billion in state and local tax revenue. Outdoor advocates said the impact is actually greater, since the study did not include equestrian, sailing and diving activities, all of which generate significant economic activity in the state. Jobs in the outdoor recreation sector include outdoor gear and apparel design and sales; lodging and transportation; guiding and outfitting services; and many more.
"We are delighted that Governor Inslee is highlighting the broad business and social benefits of outdoor recreation. The sector is among the state's biggest contributors to economic, community and personal health," said Marc Berejka, who directs REI's government and community engagement. "We look forward to working with the Governor and others to find ways to better support the people, communities and entrepreneurs who help make Washington one of the best states in the country for outdoor recreation."
In addition to the state agencies and the WWRC, the coalition includes American Whitewater, Back Country Horsemen of Washington, Bicycle Alliance of Washington, Citizens for Parks & Recreation, Coastal Conservation Association, Evergreen Bike Alliance, Fish Northwest, Northwest Marine Trade Association, Northwest Motorcycle Association, Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association, Northwest Yacht Brokers Association, Puget Sound Anglers, and the Recreational Boating Association of Washington.
Others include REI, Ski Washington, The Mountaineers, The Nature Conservancy, The Trust for Public Land, The Wilderness Society, Washington Scuba Alliance, Washington State Motorsports Dealers Association, Washington State Parks Foundation, Washington State Snowmobile Association, Washington Trails Association, Washington Environmental Council, Washington Off Highway Vehicle Alliance, Washington Public Ports Association, and the Washington Recreation and Park Association.
The recreation economic report and fact sheets on each state are available on the Outdoor Industry Association's website at www.outdoorindustry.org/recreationeconomy/