From hunting and horseback riding to skiing and scuba diving, outdoor recreation is a big draw and big business in Washington state.
That's why Governor Jay Inslee today signed an executive order to create a blue ribbon task force to transform Washington's outdoor recreation industry, tourism, and funding support for recreation areas.
"Outdoor recreation is an underappreciated part of our economy," said Inslee. "We need to look at ways that we can support and expand this industry to create jobs, increase economic opportunity and support our rural communities."
Outdoor recreation in Washington directly supports 227,000 jobs and generates $22.5 billion in annual spending on things like equipment, lodging and apparel. Inslee joined nearly three dozen businesses, agencies and outdoor organizations, known as The Big Tent Outdoor Coalition, last week to announce his new effort.
Inslee's executive order establishes a 15-member task force to be comprised of representatives from public and private organizations representing everything from tourism to environmental education. The task force will develop recommendations and an action plan to strengthen outdoor tourism and job creation, promote outdoor recreation, and develop long-term funding sources for state-owned recreation lands and facilities within State Parks, the Department of Natural Resources and Department of Fish and Wildlife. Their recommendations are due to the Governor and Legislature in September 2014.
"This isn't just about Washington's economy. This is also about a generational legacy in our state," said Inslee "We need to leave a Washington that allows every single one of us -- young or old -- to experience, play and relax in some of the most beautiful trails, parks and lakes in the world. I know we can find a way forward to making sure Washington's beautiful outdoor spaces are promoted and preserved for generations to come."