Outdoor Recreation Is Critical to Economic Recovery

By Elijah Johnson
DHC Communications Director

Photo Credit: insider.co.uk

Outdoor recreation activities in Washington generate $40.3 billion in economic activity annually, according to a report released by Earth Economics. The report, titled “Economic Analysis of Outdoor Recreation in Washington State,” states that residents and tourists spend $26.5 billion annually on outdoor recreation, supporting 264,000 jobs, or 6% of all jobs in Washington.  Of that, $18.8 billion is spent on trips to parks and natural areas. Another $7.7 billion is spent on outdoor gear, equipment, and repair services. In Spokane County, outdoor recreation participation supports nearly 18,000 jobs.

In comparison and for context, our state’s aerospace industry reported 237,000 direct and indirect jobs in 2017. Having access to natural areas like the Dishman Hills has been especially valuable to our community recently. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we noticed increased use of our parking lots and trail systems as people enjoyed outdoor activities, seeking to get out of the house in a safe, socially-distanced way while many businesses and indoor activities were closed.

Kaleen Cottingham, director of the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office, was quoted in The Spokesman-Review saying, “This study shows that the money people spend recreating benefits our local economies. We should think strongly about continuing to invest in our outdoor assets, to maintain our trails, redesign overcrowded boat launches, repair deteriorated campgrounds, and build new places to recreate – as a way to improve our economic future and enhance the beautiful places that we all enjoy.” 

The report also found that public lands provide between $216 and $264 billion in environmental benefits. Services such as water storage and disaster risk reduction save money by avoiding costly investments in infrastructure, while services like carbon sequestration and food provisioning have positive health outcomes – in addition to the physical and mental health benefits (and savings) of having access to nearby natural areas.

Outdoor recreation and participation will be a critical piece of the recovery effort as we begin to rebuild and adapt our economy during and in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Dishman Hills Conservancy (DHC) is committed to connecting and protecting the natural areas within the Dishman Hills, while providing recreational access to the community. We also partner with other organizations in our region that advocate for the importance of natural areas and resources.

There are many ways you can get involved. Through our website at DishmanHills.org, you can donate to DHC to support our mission, stewardship of our land, or to a specific project or program (CLICK HERE) or you can stay connected by signing up to join our email list (CLICK HERE). DHC also offers volunteer opportunities that take place outdoors and follow social distancing guidelines. Events are scheduled year round. To learn more about DHC and the work we do, contact Elijah by email at Elijah@DishmanHills.org.