Proponents of motorized and non-motorized recreation on public lands in the West will collaborate on a study to measure their combined economic impact, the Western Governor's Association has announced.
Washington state Gov. Chris Gregoire, who chairs the association, announced the project last week during the WGA's meeting in California. She says the study is expected to be a comprehensive report documenting the recreation industry's contribution to jobs and the economy of the Western states and the nation.
Joining her for the announcement were Frank Hugelmeyer, president and CEO of the Outdoor Industry Association, and Kathy Van Kleeck, senior vice president of Government Relations for the Motorcycle Industry Council, Specialty Vehicle Institute of America, and the Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association.
"In the past, the motorized and non-motorized groups have published their own reports and analyses using different methodologies," Gov. Gregoire said. "With this joint effort, policymakers and the public will get a more complete picture of the positive impacts these industries have on the Western economy."
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, WGA's vice chairman, said the study is expected to be completed by late summer 2012.
"Quanitfying the economic impact of outdoor recreation will help states develop the right policies to preserve and enhance our natural and built infrastructure to meet public demand," Gov. Herbert said. "Our goal is to strengthen the recreation economy, which will in turn help build state economies and create jobs."
"The American West is an iconic place for outdoor recreation and draws enthusiasts locally and from around the world," said Mr. Hugelmeyer. "Our choice of activities may differ, but our interest in an accessible, well-managed, well-funded public lands infrastructure brings us together. It is critical that the outdoor recreation community work together to provide a comprehensive snapshot that reveals the true economic impact of our collective industries."
The study is expected to build on the methodologies in the 2006 Active Outdoor Recreation Economy Report produced by OIA's non-profit supporting arm, the Outdoor foundation.
Speaking on behalf of the power sports industry associations, Kathy Van Kleeck commented, "We are delighted to partner with WGA and OIA to finally produce comprehensive data on the contribution that the entire recreation community provides to the U.S. and state economies. We expect this study to validate previous less extensive analyses that have shown the enormous beneficial impact that both motorized and non-motorized recreation have on the economy and on U.S. employment."
The study is part of a broader strategy under an umbrella WGA initiative launched by Governor Gregoire called Get Out West! The initiative is focusing on growing the tourism and recreation economies in the West and connecting urban kids and families in the region to the West's vast outdoor assets, including state and national parks, forests, grasslands, deserts and beaches.