Oregon Reports Crucial Impact of Wildlife, Outdoor Recreation in State Economy

by Halle Ames

After a recent study, several departments are finding that Oregon’s outdoor recreation activities are crucial to the state’s economy.

The partnership between Travel Oregon, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD), the Oregon Office of Outdoor Recreation (OREC), Oregon Fish & Wildlife (ODFW), and Earth Economics teamed up to find out how much revenue the state acquired from outdoor activities.

Together, they released a report called the Outdoor Recreation Economic Impact Study. The study “demonstrates the importance of Oregon’s vast range of outdoor recreation opportunities to the state’s economy.”

In 2019, the study reported that parks and other recreation employed more than 224,000 full- and part-time jobs. In addition, it generated around $9.3 billion in wages and compensation.

The study also found that outdoor recreation in the Beaver State supported $15.6 billion in spending. This includes items such as money spent on recreational trips and outdoor recreation gear, apparel, equipment, and repair.

Travel Oregon, Help Communities

Todd Davidson, CEO of Travel Oregon, says the state’s beauty is what attracts so many visitors each year. They also are focusing a lot of their attention on small businesses since the start of the pandemic.

“Outdoor recreation and Oregon’s scenic beauty are among our greatest assets to attract visitors and create a robust statewide tourism economy. Our focus at Travel Oregon is to partner with federal and state agencies, tribal governments, and regional partners on targeted investments that improve accessibility and sustainability of these assets. This study provides strategic insights for us to apply as we work to stimulate the recovery of small businesses, outfitters, and communities that rely upon visitor spending while we also continue to prioritize public health. When travel fully resumes, it is essential these small businesses are ready to welcome visitors and create memorable Oregon experiences.”

The need for the study was due to an increase in tourism to Oregon. There has also never been a report specifically aimed at the “outdoor recreation and its reach in direct and indirect spending in local communities.”

The department conducted the report before the start of the pandemic.

Outdoor Recreation and Ecosystem

Cailin O’Brien-Feeney, Director of OREC’s, says there is still a lot of work to do to improve everyone’s experience. They also are aimed to help areas affected by the pandemic and wildfires.

“Oregonians already know how much outdoor recreation contributes to their quality of life, but what this report makes clear is just how important of an economic driver it is as well,” said O’Brien-Feeney. “Looking ahead, there’s more work to do, and even more investments to be made, to ensure all people can enjoy outdoor experiences while also helping communities recover from the impacts of the pandemic and 2020 wildfires.”

Curt Melcher, Director of ODFW, says his department’s goal is to promote a healthy ecosystem. In turn, this will aid in helping the economy.

“Oregonians clearly love the outdoors. What makes those outdoor experiences so special is the chance to see and connect with fish and wildlife,” said Melcher. “The report helps reinforce the importance of healthy fish, wildlife, and habitat to the state’s economy.”

The report will further help policymakers direct funds in specific areas of improvement. Hopefully, it will offer immediate and long-term impact.

[H/T Cision]