Big News In Open Space: The Governor Calls For A State-wide Task Force on Recreation

Washington River Rafting

Outdoor recreation is big business in Puget Sound and throughout Washington. But it’s about more than just industry retailers like REI and Outdoor Research. Access to hiking, camping, boating and other outdoor pursuits are a central part of the unique quality of life we enjoy – and a major selling point for non-outdoor businesses seeking to recruit new talent.

Governor Inslee indicated his understanding of the importance of recreation to our state on February 19 when he signed an executive order creating a task force that will work to support the outdoors and outdoor recreation.

“Outdoor recreation is an underappreciated part of our economy,” Inslee said in a news release. “We need to look at ways that we can support and expand this industry to create jobs, increase economic opportunity and support our rural communities.”

The task force will be working with industries that have tremendous potential to positively influence the state’s economy. Statewide, active outdoor recreation in Washington state supports 115,000 jobs. And, in its 2010 Conservation Economics Study, the Trust for Public Land found that active outdoor recreation contributes over $8.5 billion in annual retail sales and about $650 million in retail tax revenue.

Conversely, the economic impact of limiting access to recreational lands can be quite negative. In their November 9, 2013article in the Seattle Times, former Congressman Norm Dicks and former Governor Dan Evans noted that for each day Mount Rainier National Park was closed, Washington State lost an average of more than $90,000 in tourism revenue. Clearly, increasing the accessibility and availability of recreational resources can have a hugely positive effect on our state’s economy.

The ROSS team is pleased that Gov. Inslee has recognized the importance of open space, public lands, and investing in the creation of better access opportunities for people all across our state. The ROSS Task Force on Economic Development will be exploring these issues with a specific focus on the four-county area of the Puget Sound.

But the Governor’s task force is focused on more than just creating economic benefit. A special focus will be placed on getting people, especially youth and families, engaged in outdoor activities. The task force’s work will also develop funding support for Washington State Parks, which has struggled to raise funds.

We are particularly hopeful that this task force can help begin to address the need to provide outdoor recreation opportunities to traditionally underserved communities. The idea of “outdoor equity” is at the heart of the ROSS framework, as represented by our Social Equity Task Force.

We hope to work closely with the task force to offer guidance, provide support, and insure that open spaces around our state are and stewarded and preserved, now and for many generations into the future.

“This isn’t just about Washington’s economy,” said Inslee. “We need to leave a Washington that allows every single one of us — young or old — to experience, play and relax in some of the most beautiful trails, parks and lakes in the world.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. Members of the 15-person group should be selected soon, and the first meeting is scheduled for April 9.

Filed under: 
Regional Challenges: 
Privacy statement | Credits and Attribution | Unsubscribe from email
© 2017 ROSS. All Rights Reserved.
Site development: Barn Door Productions