Prove your humanity

This story comes from WVIA News.

Pennsylvania is eager to develop its outdoor economy, said Nathan Reigner, Ph.D., PA’s Director of Outdoor Recreation.

“One of the biggest successes we’re delivering is growing the understanding that the economic impact of outdoor recreation is far beyond tourism and participation in outdoor activities,” he said.

The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) released the Growing Outdoor Recreation for Pennsylvania Conclusions Report and Roadmap for the Future this week. It creates an action plan to grow outdoor recreation’s positive impact on communities, creating jobs and economic opportunity, and providing pathways to enjoy the outdoors, according to DCNR.

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The 32-page report summarizes and develops conclusions from the Growing Outdoor Recreation for Pennsylvania process, said Reigner. Over the past year, he and other state representatives met with more than 500 people from all backgrounds across Pennsylvania to discuss how to foster and grow the industry.

“Our outdoor industry is large, but it’s diffuse, it’s distributed. It’s not networked together, it’s not advocating for itself cohesively,” he said.

The state created an Office of Outdoor Recreation last year. The report also details how that office will bring together everyone involved in the outdoor economy and includes 50 action steps to expand the industry and its economic impact.

“We’re excited to get to work implementing them to benefit our Commonwealth, our communities, and all Pennsylvanians,” DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said in a press release.

Outdoor recreation in Pennsylvania just got a new champion

The outdoor economy can stimulate and sustain businesses, said Reigner. He gave an example in Blair County: business leaders that specialize in traditional, old school manufacturing recruited new employees to south central Pennsylvania — and it was because of the outdoor recreation amenities available in the area.

“That is the kind of impact that the office is helping to stimulate and the kind of success stories that we need to be talking about more,” he said.

In the past, the state’s economic development plans did not consider outdoor recreation as a critical ingredient, Reigner said.

But Pennsylvania is a major player nationwide; it has the 8th largest outdoor economy in the country. According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, outdoor recreation contributed $17 billion to Pennsylvania’s economy in 2022 — a $4 billion increase from 2021.

Those numbers don’t surprise Reigner but rather how quickly the outdoor industry is growing in Pennsylvania.

“We’re a Mid-Atlantic state with legacies of railroad without a major federal lands footprint to have done this,” he said.