The National Governors Association (NGA) has launched the Outdoor Recreation Learning Network – of which the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR) is a founding sponsor – to help governors and their staff leverage their states’ unique natural, cultural and historical outdoor recreation resources to advance economic, workforce, health and environmental benefits.
“ORR is proud to partner with the NGA to launch the game-changing Outdoor Recreation Learning Network,” said Jessica Wahl, executive director of ORR. “This partnership will ensure that the outdoor recreation sector has the support it needs at the state and local level to continue to grow, providing jobs, outdoor access for all, and health and quality of life benefits for generations to come.”
ORR has been working with states across the country to set up Offices of Outdoor Recreation. In the past few months, Nevada, New Mexico, Virginia and Wisconsin established their own offices.
To promote these offices and provide support and coordination for the creation of new offices, the NGA Center for Best Practices will partner with state outdoor recreation directors to convene governors, their staff and other state officials. Through peer-to-peer exchanges, the network will spotlight strategies states can use to advance outdoor recreation. It will focus on key issue areas, including conservation, stewardship, education, workforce training, economic development, infrastructure, public health, equity and wellness.
“Oregonians share a special connection with the outdoors; our communities and economies are built on its natural beauty and bounty. People flock to our state both for its majesty and for the progressive policies we have put in place to preserve it,” said Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, which established an office of outdoor recreation in 2017. “But you can’t just protect the outdoors, you have to enable access too. Our outdoor recreation industry is thriving and still has enormous potential, and I am pleased to join my fellow governors to support this sector that contributes so much to our health, to our spirits, and our livelihoods.”
Governors launched the network at NGA’s annual Summer Meeting in Salt Lake City, where state leaders share best practices and hear from experts in various fields. In addition to Gov. Brown, participants included Maine Gov. Janet Mills, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, Nevada Gov.Steve Sisolak, Utah Gov.Gary Herbert, Vermont Gov.Phil Scott and outdoor recreation directors from many states.
“NGA’s decision to create an initiative solely focused on supporting and expanding outdoor recreation opportunities across the country is an ironclad endorsement of our industry’s rapidly increasing economic significance,” said Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association. “The Outdoor Recreational Learning Network will provide states with vital resources to help our industry – and cherished American pastimes – continue to thrive and we thank NGA for leading the way on outdoor recreation issues.”
“Fifteen state governments have established high-level staff positions or task forces to focus on increasing outdoor recreation opportunities and fostering the growth of outdoor industries, including bicycling,” said PeopleForBikes President Tim Blumenthal. “The Outdoor Recreation Learning Network will ensure success for these recently designated leaders and the many who will follow by establishing best practices and facilitating information sharing.”
“The RV industry applauds the launch of the Outdoor Recreation Learning Network and the commitment NGA is making to recognize the strength of the outdoor recreation economy and prioritize its continued growth,” said Craig Kirby, interim president of the RV Industry Association. “The learning network represents an unprecedented opportunity not only for outdoor recreation as a whole but for the 30,000 RV business across the nation who contribute $114 billion to the U.S. economy, support 600,000 jobs and pay over $32 billion in wages.”
“The powersports industry, including motorcycles, ATVs and ROVs (known as side-by-sides), is a $40 billion industry in the U.S.,” said Tim Buche, president of the Motorcycle Industry Council. “The Motorcycle Industry Council salutes our nation’s governors for their commitment to preserving access to public lands for responsible riding opportunities that generate billions of dollars in state and local revenue.”
“The sportfishing industry is excited for the Outdoor Recreational Learning Network to help states better collaborate on strategies for improving outdoor recreation,” said Glenn Hughes, president of the American Sportfishing Association. “Recreational fishing consistently ranks as one of the most popular outdoor recreation activities, with 49 million recreational fishermen supporting over 800,000 jobs and contributing $125 billion annually to the economy.”