ST. GEORGE, UTAH – Outdoor recreation leaders from Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico and Virginia committed to advance the principles contained in the Outdoor Recreation Industry Confluence Accords, on behalf of their governors, at a signing ceremony today. That brings the total number of states to an historic 13, reminiscent of other revolutionary groups.
The signing took place in St. George, Utah, at the Utah Outdoor Recreation Summit, a three-day gathering of local stakeholders, industry professionals and land managers.
The Confluence Accords embody 12 principles contained in the four pillars of conservation and stewardship, education and workforce training, economic development, and public health and wellness. They were developed in 2018 by the Confluence of States, a bipartisan group of eight trailblazing states, to promote and advance best practices for all states to consider.
The original Confluence Accord signatories were outdoor recreation directors from the states of Colorado, Montana, North Carolina, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Washington and Wyoming on behalf of their governors.
There are now 16 states with offices of outdoor recreation or task forces created or under development following recent legislation.
“Maine people and visitors have enjoyed our vast natural resources for generations. From hunting to fishing to hiking and many other activities in between, experiencing and protecting the outdoors is an integral part of our heritage, it is who we are as a people, and it is a cornerstone of our state’s economy,” said Governor Janet Mills. “By joining this partnership of states, Maine will continue to build on its strong outdoor recreation tradition to attract new businesses, encourage healthy lifestyles, create jobs, and strengthen our rural economy.”
“From the Great Lakes to our expansive forest lands to a vast network of trails, Michigan boasts unparalleled natural resources and countless opportunities for outdoor recreation,” Governor Gretchen Whitmer said. “Our state is well positioned to be a leader in this new effort to support and promote the outdoor recreation economy. By partnering with a consortium of states dedicated to promoting the outdoor recreation industry, we will make sure that our work aligns with others who share our values in prioritizing conservation and stewardship, health and wellness, growing our workforce and strengthening our economy.”
“Outdoor recreation is an integral part of life in Nevada, and we are proud to be part of the Confluence of States,” said Governor Steve Sisolak. “We strongly believe that blending the conservation of our state’s spectacular natural resources with sustainable recreation is the key to providing one-of-a-kind outdoor experiences that will increase tourism and economic development, while enhancing the quality of life of all Nevadans. Through the Confluence of States, we look forward to coming together around shared best-practice principles to strengthen the collective voice for advancing outdoor recreation and protecting our natural and cultural treasures.”
“In New Mexico, we have a tremendous opportunity to expand our outdoor recreation economy in a sustainable and meaningful way — that means more high-quality jobs and more economic opportunity in rural parts of our state. It also means we have a tremendous responsibility to our great outdoors, our air and water and land,” said Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. “As we do the work of diversifying our economy into exciting new growth sectors, like outdoor recreation, and building the infrastructure that will support and sustain that growth, we will ensure conservation and stewardship are at the heart of everything we do.”
“From the Appalachian Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean, every region of Virginia is home to unique outdoor assets and recreation opportunities which are sought out by millions of travelers each year,” said Governor Ralph Northam. “We’re pleased to join the community of states that have recognized the importance of this industry as a driver of economic development and quality of life. Outdoor recreation not only improves the growth potential of Virginia’s communities, but it also supports our goals on land conservation, workforce development, and public health.”
The outdoor recreation industry is of growing economic importance in both urban and rural areas. The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis in September reported that outdoor recreation makes up 2.2 percent of U.S. GDP, generating $778 billion in gross output and supporting 5.2 million jobs. Federal data show that inflation-adjusted GDP for the outdoor recreation economy grew by 3.9 percent in 2017, eclipsing the 2.4 percent growth of the overall U.S. economy.
“As the first state to create an outdoor recreation office in 2013, we are pleased Utah is the host for this historic milestone demonstrating the shared interest of states from across the country in supporting recreation management and recreation businesses,” said Utah Governor Gary Herbert, who noted that outdoor recreation contributes $12.3 billion to the Utah economy and employs more than 110,000 people.
The five new signatory states were gathered, alongside representatives from 16 other states, as part of the first summit of the National Governors Association (NGA) Outdoor Recreation Learning Network. Governors from Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Vermont and many state outdoor recreation directors joined NGA for the launch of the network at the NGA 2019 Summer Meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, in July.
The network was created to help governors and their staffs leverage their unique natural, cultural and historical resources to advance economic, workforce, health and environmental benefits. Through peer-to-peer exchanges, the network spotlights strategies states can use to advance outdoor recreation. It focuses on key issue areas identified by the states, including conservation, stewardship, education, workforce training, economic development, infrastructure, public health, equity and wellness.
The founding sponsors of the Outdoor Recreation Learning Network include REI Co-op, the Outdoor Industry Association and the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable.
Founded in 1908, the National Governors Association (NGA) is the nonpartisan organization of the nation’s 55 governors. Through NGA, governors share best practices, address issues of national and state interest and share innovative solutions that improve state government and support the principles of federalism.