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Outdoor recreation gets a seat at the big decision-making table… finally

For the past nine years, a movement has been slowly spreading across the U.S. that could have a significant impact on your camping future. There are now 16 states that have added governor’s-cabinet-level Offices of Outdoor Recreation or at least established task forces to coordinate efforts on behalf of outdoor recreation.

Before you say, “Oh great. More state bureaucracy,” consider this. The addition of these high-level state offices gives outdoor recreation a seat at the decision-making table. For the first time, outdoor recreation enthusiasts have advocates in state capitols, tasked with making it easier to access the outdoors.

It’s about time. Nearly half of the nation’s population (140 million folks) at least dabble in outdoor activities, and many of those millions are full-scale outdoor fanatics. Dedicated RVers fall into that latter group.

The move to add Offices of Outdoor Recreation grew out of the National Governors Association, with a push from organizations like the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA). The OIA not-so-quietly reminded politicians that outdoor recreation produces about $887 billion in annual revenues and employs more than 7.5 million people (who also vote). Many governors and state legislators took notice.

State directors to protect public lands and increase our access

For the first time, outdoors lovers have at least 16 state directors of Outdoor Recreation who are tasked with adding more bike lanes, boat ramps, and campgrounds. These are state officials who aren’t supposed to say “no” to more public land access. They are there to responsibly find ways to protect public lands and increase our access.

In just the past few months, billions of federal dollars have been approved to increase outdoor recreation access and improve facilities at national parks as well as state and local parks. Much of these funds will be funneled through these new Offices of Outdoor Recreation.

Below is a list of the states that have established these offices. Get familiar with the offices and their directors. It’s your most direct route to the state spending coffers and the best way for you to advocate for more public campgrounds.

If you don’t see your state on the list, talk to your local legislators and your governor. The precedent has been set in these first 16 states. If other states follow suit, the voice of RVers and all outdoor enthusiasts can only get louder.

States with Offices of Outdoor Recreation or Outdoor Task Forces

Colorado

Colorado’s Outdoor Recreation Industry Office, created by gubernatorial action in 2015, is tasked with championing industry, communities, and people to come to life through Colorado’s great outdoors. The office is in Colorado’s Office of Economic and International Trade. Click HERE.

Maine

Created by executive order in 2018, Maine’s office of outdoor recreation is housed in the Department of Economic and Community Development. The office focuses on leveraging Maine’s assets and outdoor recreation heritage to grow the outdoor recreation economy and build Maine’s outdoor recreation brand as part of a coordinated effort with partners from the public and private sectors. Click HERE.

Michigan

What began as a task force now operates as a joint project (under a memorandum of understanding) of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. The office is charged with expanding the outdoor recreation economy in Michigan and building awareness about the importance and value of the businesses that comprise Michigan’s outdoor recreation industry and will collaborate with industry partners to identify and anticipate emerging recreation trends. The office will also promote outdoor recreation activities across the state and create support for the stewardship of Michigan’s natural resources. Click HERE.

Minnesota

Minnesota’s Outdoor Recreation Task Force is made up of 20 stakeholders representing specialty outdoor retail, outdoor manufacturing, local tourism entities, recreation user groups and groups dedicated to increasing outdoor experiences for children. The Task Force develops recommendations for Minnesota’s Dept. of Natural Resources, Explore Minnesota and the Governor, for a plan to increase Minnesota’s outdoor recreation economy. Click HERE.

Montana

Montana Governor Steve Bullock proposed the creation of an Office of Outdoor Recreation during his 2016 gubernatorial campaign. In 2017, the Director of Outdoor Recreation was created with the objectives of increasing the visibility and economic activity of Montana’s outdoor recreation and related goods and services, and to firmly establish that Montana’s clean air, clean water and access to public lands and rivers are an economic driver that attracts businesses to relocate to the state. Click HERE.

Nevada

The Division of Outdoor Recreation oversees the development of business in Nevada’s outdoor recreation economy and preserves natural resources for outdoor recreation. Collectively, the administrators are tasked with promoting the growth of Nevada’s outdoor recreation economy, advocating on behalf of Nevada for federal funding, coordinating recreation policy among local, state, and federal government entities, promoting the health and social benefits of outdoor recreation, and promoting engagement in the outdoors among diverse communities. Click HERE.

New Hampshire

New Hampshire’s Office of Outdoor Recreation began as bipartisan legislation in the state senate that was eventually incorporated in the state’s biennial budget. After the budget was vetoed by Governor Sununu, legislators had a 3-month window for negotiations and compromise with the Governor. In October 2019, a $13 billion budget was passed that included funding for the Office of Outdoor Recreation Industry Development. Click HERE.

New Mexico

Created by legislation in the 2019 legislative session, New Mexico’s Outdoor Recreation Division is tasked with increasing outdoor-recreation-based economic development, tourism and ecotourism, recruiting new outdoor businesses to relocate to New Mexico, and promoting education about outdoor recreation’s benefits to enhance public health. The bill that created the Outdoor Recreation Division also creates an Outdoor Equity Grant Program to ensure disadvantaged youth have access to the benefits and experiences realized by recreating outdoors. Click HERE.

North Carolina

Through inclusion in the state budget in 2017, North Carolina created the position of Outdoor Recreation and Recruitment Director to promote economic development in outdoor-based recreation and manufacturing statewide. Click HERE.

Oregon

Oregon’s Office of Outdoor Recreation was created through legislation in 2017. The office is charged with coordinating the state’s outdoor recreation policy across agencies, between public and private sectors, and in cooperation with organizations that have a vested interest in seeing Oregon’s outdoor recreation reach its fullest potential in every corner of the state. The office will also supplement and amplify agencies already doing this work. Click HERE.

Utah

Utah was the first state to create a position, via gubernatorial action then codified through legislation, dedicated to the outdoor recreation industry in 2013. Directed by Pitt Grewe and housed in Utah’s Office of Economic Development, the Office of Outdoor Recreation’s mission is to coordinate outdoor recreation policy, management, and promotion among local, state, and federal agencies; promote economic development; recommend and help implement policies and initiatives to enhance recreational amenities and experiences; develop data, and promote the health and social benefits of outdoor recreation. Click HERE.

Vermont

The Vermont Outdoor Recreation Collaborative (VOREC) was established by executive order in 2017. VOREC serves as an advisor to the Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation and Agency of Commerce and Community Development. The collaborative’s mission is to engage with businesses, government, the nonprofit sector and the public to identify specific outcomes that promote business opportunities, increase participation opportunities, and strengthen the quality and stewardship of Vermont’s recreational resources. Click HERE.

Virginia

Virginia’s Office of Outdoor Recreation was created by Governor Ralph Northam through an executive order in 2019. The office is under the direction of the Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade, in partnership with the Secretary of Natural Resources. Together and with staff from multiple state agencies, they will work on economic development, talent attraction and retention, as well as improving quality of life through the lens of outdoor recreation. Click HERE.

Washington state

Washington’s outdoor recreation lead was created via legislation in 2015. The Senior Policy Advisor for Outdoor Recreation and Economic Development within the office of the governor is charged with serving as the state lead on economic development issues relating to the outdoor recreation sector in Washington. Click HERE.

Wisconsin

Located within the Department of Tourism, Wisconsin’s Office of Outdoor Recreation was created when Governor Tony Evers signed the state’s biennial budget. The office works to amplify the efforts of the Department of Natural Resources and Travel Wisconsin, protecting natural resources in the state while supporting and growing the state’s $17.9 billion recreation economy. Click HERE.

Wyoming

Wyoming’s office began as a task force created by the governor in 2016 to study and make recommendations on the state’s outdoor recreation needs. That study recommended the creation of an office, and in 2020 Chris Floyd took over as Administrator of the Outdoor Recreation Office. The office is part of Wyoming’s Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources and is tasked with planning and developing outdoor recreation resources for the state with an eye toward growing the outdoor recreation sector of Wyoming’s economy. Click HERE.

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Gary G
8 months ago

Probably why Oregon charges out of state visitors 25% more. Had to pay for this someway.

BILLY Bob Thronton
8 months ago

Do this; Colorado needs to report directly to these states their results of their new cancellation policy at Steamboat.

EJ Canary
8 months ago

Too many WEF buzzwords surrounding the “Office of Outdoor Recreation”. I don’t think it will be all rainbows & unicorns…

BILLY Bob Thronton
8 months ago
Reply to  EJ Canary

I’m still looking for my first Unicorn, no luck yet!

Bill n stacey
8 months ago

Amazing! Citizens blindly allowing more Guv control over theyre lives….

Bill
8 months ago

I see my state, New Mexico, on this list but its all lip service. The governor has decimated all the NM state parks during the pandemic. All I have visited in the last 4 months are understaffed and as a result unable to fully open. Where did the staff go? One was closed for the entire 2 years of the pandemic. Marketing the outdoors in New Mexico is a joke under this governor. She’s all about the jewelry, not the outdoors.

Bob M
8 months ago
Reply to  Bill

Last year I thought it might be a nice to try a job at a Pa state park. You have to do it by computer. When I logged in, you had to let them allow your personnel information to be used by other non government companies. Since I value my privacy, personal information and didn’t need the job for the money, I declined. I previously worked for the government and had my personal information compromised twice since retiring.

BILLY Bob Thronton
8 months ago
Reply to  Bob M

Until these clowns are punished and sued into oblivion, they operate as dictators, nothing will change. The Wuhan only emboldened these bureaucrats, now it’s time to sue them stupid, because they had no authority. Read the laws, they don’t exist.

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