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Pennsylvania Office of Outdoor Recreation Joins National Coalition Supporting $1.1 Trillion Industry Nationwide

Pennsylvania Office of Outdoor Recreation Joins National Coalition Supporting $1.1 Trillion Industry Nationwide

by Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Photo courtesy of Joshua Sukoff on Unsplash

The Commonwealth’s office joins Confluence of States, which supports the industry that contributes $17 billion to Keystone state’s economy and supports more than 164,000 full-time jobs.

Pennsylvania Director of Outdoor Recreation Nathan Reigner announced on Tuesday, June 11, that the Commonwealth’s Office of Outdoor Recreation was recently welcomed into Confluence of States, a national coalition of states working to grow the $1.1 trillion outdoor recreation economy and drive collective goals and strategies forward.

As he promised in his first budget proposal, Governor Josh Shapiro launched the Office of Outdoor Recreation in 2023 to make Pennsylvania the national leader in outdoor recreation. Governor Shapiro joined Reigner recently to announce the Commonwealth’s Outdoor Business Alliance to organize businesses within and supporting Pennsylvania’s outdoor economy, which contributes $17 billion to the economy and supports more than 164,000 jobs in the Keystone State.

“We are thrilled to join the Confluence and look forward to continuing our push to grow our outdoor economy and harness its power for economic and workforce development, public health, and conservation,” Reigner said. “With the full support of Governor Josh Shapiro and the widespread enthusiasm of Pennsylvania’s outdoor industry and economic development community, Pennsylvania is excited to with the Confluence at the national level to help grow our outdoor economy.”

Pennsylvania joined the Confluence of States by signing the Confluence Accords in May, which embody 15 principles contained in the five pillars of conservation and stewardship; education and workforce training; economic development; public health and wellness; and opportunity and experience. The Confluence Accords were developed in 2018 to promote and advance best practices for all states to sustainably grow their outdoor recreation economies.

“Pennsylvania’s formal commitment to the Confluence of States is testament to the groundswell of support for outdoor recreation as a driver of resilient state economies, connector of communities, and boon to public health,” said Chris Perkins, Vice President of Programs at Outdoor Recreation Roundtable. “The $1.1 trillion outdoor recreation economy is better off with robust state leadership for outdoor recreation initiatives and investments, and we are proud to have showcased these directors and the Confluence of States at our National Outdoor Recreation Executive Forum.”

The Office of Outdoor Recreation released its action plan to grow the sector in January Growing Outdoor Recreation Report (PDF), which included feedback from stakeholders, outdoor recreationists, and the departments of Community and Economic Development, Health, and Transportation and more than 50 actions to assist with larger strategic priorities of building capacity within Pennsylvania’s outdoor recreation industry, building community and economic development capacity, and building the capacity for inclusive and equitable wellbeing through the outdoors for Pennsylvania.

“I am extremely proud of the work done to launch this office and the sustaining actions to help grow outdoor recreation in Pennsylvania,” Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said. “Pennsylvania has some of the most beautiful natural resources in the nation and it is increasingly important that we see them as assets for building up Commonwealth communities through the health and wellness opportunities they provide, as well as the economic benefits.”

Pennsylvania is home to 124 state parks, 2.2 million acres of state forestland and more than 12,000 miles of trails, which make it a leader in the region for outdoor assets. Governor Shapiro and his family recently highlighted some of those fantastic outdoor experiences during the Great American Getaway Recreational Vehicle Tour.

The original Confluence Accord signatories were outdoor recreation directors from the states of Colorado, Montana, North Carolina, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wyoming in July 2018.  The second signing included Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, and Virginia in October 2019. The third signing included Arkansas, Maryland, and New Hampshire in May 2022. Pennsylvania and Massachusetts joined in May bringing the total number of states in the Confluence to 18.

Outdoor recreation is an economic engine that creates jobs and sustains state and local economies throughout the United States. In its most recent data, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that outdoor recreation makes up 2.2 percent of U.S. GDP, generating $1.1 trillion in gross output and supporting 5 million jobs.

More information on outdoor recreation in Pennsylvania is on the DCNR website, and check out DCNR’s Calendar of Events for programs and educational opportunities on public lands.