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New data shows outdoor recreation has big impact on U.S. and economy

 Two people are seen fishing into the Boise River. It is dusk, but you can see their silhouettes on the background.
Murphy Woodhouse
Mountain West News Bureau
Two anglers get some final casts in on the Boise River over the summer

The Bureau of Economic Analysis has new data showing the massive economic impact of the recreation economy, which is particularly pronounced in the West.

The outdoor recreation economy includes activities like boating, skiing, camping and ATVing. Last year it accounted for 2.2 percent of the country’s GDP -- or about $560 billion.

That figure was up 4.8 percent over the previous year, much higher than the broader economy. But the increase was also much slower than the jump seen in 2021.

In many Western states -- like Montana, Wyoming and Utah -- recreation’s share of the economy was substantially higher than the national figure.

“I think that the data we saw today shows how valuable it was to every state's economy,” said Chris Perkins of the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable, which represents the industry. “But it goes without saying that the Mountain West and the western United States have high concentration of public lands and waters that enable recreation activities.”

Wyoming, Colorado and Nevada saw some of the largest year-to-year jumps in the value of recreation, all near or over 20 percent.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, KUNC in Colorado and KANW in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Hey everyone! I’m Murphy Woodhouse, Boise State Public Radio’s Mountain West News Bureau reporter.
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