The Recreation Economy

LSUAGCenter

“Recreation Economy” is a new term popping up in conversations in the outdoor industry and in rural communities. This term, although still undefined, addresses recreation in all forms normally found in rural America. It typically includes agritourism and the use of natural resources used in fishing, hunting, hiking, paddling, etc.

The sudden interest in the recreation economy could be the result of the findings from the 2006 Outdoor Industry Association’s economic study on outdoor recreation in the United States. The study was repeated in 2011 and based on the national 2011-12 data compiled, outdoor recreation generates $646 billon in consumer spending; $39.9 billion in federal tax revenue; $39.7 billion in state and local tax revenue; and creates 6.1 million direct jobs. Some of the activities surveyed include: bicycling, camping, fishing, hunting, motorcycling, off-roading, snow sports, trail sports, water sports and wildlife viewing. Most of these when conducted on agricultural lands could be considered agritourism in the State of Louisiana.

In summarizing their survey, the Outdoor Industry Association suggested that outdoor recreation can grow jobs and drive the economy if our nation invests and manages our resources wisely. Building on that research, New Hampshire Senator Shaheen and Colorado Senator Garners authored bills in Congress in 2015 that called for an assessment and analysis of the outdoor economy. In March of 2016, H.R.4665, the Outdoor REC Act of 2016, was introduced by Virginia’s Representative Beyer. It was immediately referred to the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade.

If passed according to the bill description found on Congress.gov, the bill directs the Bureau of Economic Analysis of the Department of Commerce to assess and analyze the outdoor recreation economy of the United States and the effects attributable to it on the overall U.S. economy. In conducting the assessment, the Bureau may consider employment, sales, contributions to travel and tourism, and other appropriate contributing components of the outdoor recreation economy. No new action is available on the bill, but updates are available at Congress.gov by entering H.R. 4665.

In Louisiana according to the Outdoor Industry Association’s Survey, outdoor recreation generates $15.1 billion in consumer spending; $4.6 billion in wages and salaries; $1.1 billion in state and local tax revenue and provides 146,000 direct Louisiana jobs. Preserving, maintaining and growing our natural resources have the potential to bring prosperity to rural areas.

The Southern Rural Development Center, based at Mississippi State University, has recently reached out to universities in the South to determine how they are embracing the recreational economy. The center’s mission is to strengthen the capacity of 29 southern land-grant intuitions by addressing rural development issues that impact the people and the communities of the South.

With so much interest in outdoor recreation, shouldn’t we too be interested? We are rich in assets appealing to those who enjoy the great outdoors. Aside from privately owned lands already in use for outdoor recreation our state has state parks, national wildlife refuges and wildlife management areas available for outdoor sports.

To learn more about how you can use your privately owned lands and have the protection of the agritourim limited liability law contact: Dora Ann Hatch at (318) 927-9654 x 229 or e-mail her at: dhatch@agcenter.lsu.edu

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