Anyone who reads the Unaccomplished Angler with any sort of regularity knows that we here in the editorial office don’t take ourselves too seriously. We rarely tackle any subject matter that deals with significant and important issues. But when we do, you can rest assured it’s for good reason. And so when a report from the Outdoor Industry Association came across the newswires, we couldn’t let it fade into internet obscurity without giving it some attention.

Those of us who recreate outdoors, be it hiking, camping, boating, hunting, fishing, etc, understand the value of being able to do so. But most of us don’t look beyond the social importance of outdoor recreation and consider the economical value, unless we somehow work in the outdoor industry. Outdoor recreation is big business.

Direct consumer spending in the outdoor recreation industry is $646 billion (a figure that would blow Dr. Evil’s mind). That’s more than Pharmaceuticals ($331B); Motor Vehicles and parts ($340B); Gas and other fuels ($345B); Household utilities ($309B).

There are more than 6 million jobs directly dependent on outdoor recreation. That’s greater than Real Estate/Rentals & Leasing (2M). Bigger than Oil & Gas (2.1M). Information (2.5M). Education (3.5M). Transportation and Warehousing (4.3M). Construction (5.5M). Finance and Insurance (5.8M). That’s a whole lotta people earning a living in the outdoor industry.

You get the point. Outdoor recreation is huge. So, all is peachy keen in the industry, right?  Not so fast. Economic activity in the outdoor industry is directly tied to habitat. Without habitat there is no opportunity for said recreation. Starting to make sense now?  As a passionate fly anglerman, I understand the importance of having a a healthy river system to support the very fish that I persue; the availability of having a place to go wave my stick. Without either of those two components, we anglers wouldn’t be anglers.

We need local, state and federal publics lands and waters. This is a network that is as important to the economical health of our country as other public works infrastructure such as schools, water treatment, roads and airports that we all depend on. Outdoor recreation is not a boutique industry.

So, what about all this?  What does it mean for you?  Tom Sandler says it best on the Middle River Dispatch:

When the policy makers and politicians demean our public lands they show either their ignorance (to be charitable) or there political bigotry (more likely). While politicians can be expected to say what they think will get them elected, ignorance has no place in policy making. This report is a powerful, factual tool that should be part of every debate on the value of our public lands and the importance of conservation of those resources.

Thanks to Tom (AKA Wyatt Earp), for providing a lot of this information that was paraphrased here, and for fighting the good fight and bringing this matter to the forefront of the blogasphere.

Recreational venues in our nation, such as seashores, forests, parks, and wilderness, must be recognized for the important role they play in the economy. These public venues form the foundation of a national outdoor recreation system. Our policy makers should invest more, not less in these important assets to our nation’s economy.

This new report arms us with facts that must be used to show our elected officials just how important outdoor recreation is to our economy. These are undeniable economic, social and health benefits that are no longer “nice to have,” they are a “must have.”

I’m just helping to spread the word. You can help by emailing the report (here’s the link) to your elected officials. Just tell them: “Outdoor recreation means business, read this!”

Thank you. As you were.