Thanks to REC Act, U.S. Department of Commerce gets cozy with America's Trail Runners, Kayakers, MTB'ers, Skiers and more...

Outdoor recreation isn’t just good for your physical health, your mental well being, or for improving your relationship with mother nature, it’s also good for the economy.  And while that may seem like an obvious statement, especially to those who work in the outdoor recreation industry, the economic impact of outdoor recreation, however significant, has never been included in the US GDP.  At least until now…

Ever since 1989, the hardworking folks at the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) have made it a point to research, quantify, track, and publish information about the impact that trail running, snowshoeing, kayaking, hiking, camping, fishing, SUP’ing, surfing, skiing, snowboarding, diving, etc… all have on the US economy.  That impact can be measured through the purchasing of new gear, or by the tourist dollars spent at recreation destinations, or by guided instructions, hotels, food, camping fees… the list goes on and on.  While, the recreation economy data that the OIA has produced has been useful for insiders to the outdoor industry, the data hasn’t been used by the US Federal Government to track economic impact until now, with the recent passage of the Recreation Economic Contributions Act (S. 2219/ H.R. 4665), aka the REC Act.

Hiking Wyoming's Cameco Cowboy Tough

Hiking Wyoming’s Cameco Cowboy Tough

Just how much of an impact are we talking about?  Let’s take 2015 as an example…

  • 142 million Americans (48.4% of the US population) participated in an outdoor activity at least once.
  • Together we accounted for 11.7 billion (that’s with a B) outdoor outings.
  • There are more than 1300 companies that support ~6.1 million jobs and provide $80 million every year in federal and state tax revenue.
  • Those manufacturers, distributors, suppliers, sales reps, and retailers, also contribute nearly $700 million in import tariff revenue to the U.S. Treasury,
  • The grand total?  All that outdoor participation generated about $646 billion in consumer spending.

And now, with the REC Act, that economic impact can finally be used to direct and influence the US Secretary of Commernce through the Bureau of Economic Analysis to, “conduct assessments and analyses of the outdoor recreation economy of the United States.”

So what is the REC Act equipped to do exactly?  The REC Act ensures that the outdoor recreation economy, including outdoor industry jobs and our economic impact, are measured by the federal government and accounted for as part of the national Gross Domestic Product (US GDP).  The REC Act legislation requires the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Department of Labor, in consultation with federal land management agencies, to provide economic metrics and other statistics on our industry’s contributions to the U.S. economy.

President Obama at Yosemite. @yosemitenps

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Who is the OIA?

OIA Logo

OIA Helped Advocate for the 2016 REC Act.

With offices in Boulder, CO, and Washington, D.C., OIA is the title sponsor of Outdoor Retailer and the trade voice representing America’s outdoor industry – serving over 1,300 members.  OIA is a 501(c)(6) non-profit trade association.

The OIA supports the health of the industry through its focus on government affairs, corporate responsibility, outdoor consumer insights, industry trends and youth engagement. OIA hosts an annual industry conference and delivers on-demand and in-person education, tools and resources to help its members grow and succeed in the dynamic and ever-changing outdoor recreation marketplace.

Every day, OIA works with our members to benefit the industry by:

  • Advocating for issues critical to the future of the outdoor industry
  • Building stronger business leaders
  • Changing the way the world does business
  • Celebrating, inspiring and growing the active outdoor community

If you are involved in the outdoor industry and want to become a member of the association, you can go to their member benefits to find out more. Call 303.444.3353 or email with questions.