SHERIDAN — Outdoor recreation is one of the fastest-growing economic drivers on both the national and individual state levels, according to a recent report from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.
That is particularly good news for Wyoming, as the BEA’s data indicates outdoor recreation is a key contributor to the Cowboy State’s economy.
The report showed that the outdoor recreation industry contributes $1.6 billion to Wyoming’s economy, accounting for 4.4% of the state’s gross domestic product; only Hawaii (5.4%), Montana (5.1%) and Maine (4.8%) were more reliant on the industry.
This is the first year that the BEA has released an analysis of the economic impact of the outdoor recreation, and the department concluded that the industry was growing faster than the U.S. economy.
The report — which draws on data from 2017 — showed the outdoor recreation industry grew by 3.9% while the national economy grew by 2.4%.
Outdoor recreation was also cited as one of the fastest growing industries in terms of employment and compensation.
WYO State Parks, Historic Sites and Trails Deputy Director said the report, while welcome, did not come as a surprise.
It does, however, justify the faith many in the state have placed in the industry.
“What this data does tell us is that we have a vibrant and growing outdoor recreation economy and this is the tip of the iceberg,” Glenn said in a press release.
He noted that organizations like Wyoming Outdoor Recreation Office have, and continue to, worked hard to capitalize on the state’s outdoor recreation potential.
“Wyoming has done a phenomenal job leveraging our resources underground,” Glenn said. “Now we’re going to build a thriving (outdoor recreation) industry by leveraging our resources above the ground. We have more work to do.”
Within the industry, the BEA report noted that boating and fishing, RVing, motorcycling and ATVing, hunting and equestrian sports are the most impactful outdoor activities on economic growth.
Wyoming offers already offers dozens of opportunities to engage in all of those activities, Glenn noted.
Wyoming State Parks and Cultural Resources Director Darin Westby agreed.
“This study confirms what we’ve known for a long time,” Westby said. “Wyoming is a great place to work and play and we’ve been expanding those opportunities throughout the state for quite some time.”
Many of the state’s economic diversification have sought to leverage the state’s outdoors resources and this latest report seems to indicate those efforts are on the right track.