Pennsylvania Joins National Coalition to Boost Outdoor Recreation Economy

CampingPhoto by Todd Trapani on Pexels.com

HARRISBURG, PA — Pennsylvania’s Office of Outdoor Recreation has joined the Confluence of States, a national coalition aimed at advancing the $1.1 trillion outdoor recreation economy. This move reflects Governor Josh Shapiro’s commitment to elevating Pennsylvania as a leader in outdoor recreation.

Governor Shapiro launched the Office of Outdoor Recreation in 2023 to promote the state’s rich natural resources and boost its outdoor economy. The office’s efforts are now aligned with the Confluence of States by signing the Confluence Accords in May. These accords guide states on best practices for sustainable growth in outdoor recreation through principles of conservation, education, economic development, public health, and opportunity.

Pennsylvania’s outdoor economy contributes $17 billion annually and supports over 164,000 jobs. Recognizing this, Shapiro also announced the formation of the Commonwealth’s Outdoor Business Alliance. This alliance aims to organize businesses within Pennsylvania’s outdoor industry, further driving economic and workforce development.

Nathan Reigner, Pennsylvania’s Director of Outdoor Recreation, expressed enthusiasm about joining the Confluence. “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,” said Reigner.

By joining this coalition, Pennsylvania commits to leveraging its natural assets not just for recreation but also for broader socio-economic benefits. This initiative is timely as outdoor activities have surged in popularity, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. People increasingly seek outdoor spaces for recreation, contributing to both physical health and mental well-being.

Chris Perkins, Vice President of Programs at Outdoor Recreation Roundtable, highlighted the significance of Pennsylvania’s commitment. “The $1.1 trillion outdoor recreation economy is better off with robust state leadership for outdoor recreation initiatives and investments,” Perkins said.

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The Office of Outdoor Recreation released its action plan in January, detailing strategies to grow the sector. The Growing Outdoor Recreation for Pennsylvania Report includes over 50 actions based on feedback from various stakeholders. Key priorities include building capacity within the outdoor recreation industry, fostering community and economic development, and promoting inclusive and equitable access to outdoor activities.

Cindy Adams Dunn, Secretary of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, praised the initiative. “Pennsylvania has some of the most beautiful natural resources in the nation,” Dunn said. “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.”

Joining the Confluence of States positions Pennsylvania to share and adopt best practices nationwide, enhancing its outdoor recreation infrastructure and policies. This collaboration promises to strengthen the state’s ability to attract tourists, generate revenue, and support local jobs while preserving its natural landscapes.

In essence, Pennsylvania’s involvement in this national coalition underscores its dedication to making outdoor recreation a central pillar of its economic and public health strategies. This move is poised to deliver long-term benefits, ensuring that the state’s natural beauty continues to serve as a valuable resource for all.

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