While President Obama might not have Outdoor Parents, Outdoor Kids on his bedroom table quite yet, even the White House is recognizing the importance of getting kids and grown-ups outdoors. On April 16, it held its White House Conference on America’s Great Outdoors, with the Obama administration organizing the event to tout a national conservation and recreation initiative as good for Americans and America.
“Conservation is not contrary to economic growth. It is an integral part to economic growth,” says President Obama, who, with two girls of his own, also pledged to get Americans active and outdoors and to “encourage young people to hike and bike and get outside more often.”
And in support of active Americans, the president also called for a “new generation of community and urban parks.”
The president stated that launching America’s Great Outdoors is “the right thing to do for our economy. It’s how we’re going to spur job creation in the tourism industry and the recreation industry. It’s how we’ll create jobs preserving and maintaining our forests, our rivers, our great outdoors.”
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar emphasized the benefits of reconnecting Americans to the outdoors. Public lands, protected areas, parks and open space promote physical and mental health; enhance quality of life, build communities, attract employment; and support tourism-related jobs and a burgeoning recreation economy. According to a Department of the Interior 2009 report, annually, “…federal parks, refuges and monuments generate more than $24 billion in recreation and tourism” across the American economy.
“Outdoor recreation and active lifestyles promote healthy Americans and build our economy,” said Sam Solomon, president of The Coleman Company. “Getting active and outdoors – biking in Central Park or camping in the Rocky Mountains – benefits people, families and communities. The health of our industry shows that public lands and recreation are powerful economic drivers in cities and communities across America.”
Outdoor industry research cited during the conference validates protected lands and waters, and outdoor recreation as key economic drivers. “Active outdoor recreation, including hunting, fishing, camping, climbing, hiking, paddling, backcountry skiing, mountain biking, wildlife viewing, and other activities, drives a total of $730 billion in annual economic activity across the U.S. and supports 6.5 million jobs,” according to Frank Hugelmeyer, President of the Outdoor Industry Association, who attended Friday’s conference. “In the West, more than 43 million people participate in hunting, fishing, and wildlife viewing each year, spending over $33 billion annually.”
“This Conference shows that awareness and momentum is building on the importance of outdoor recreation, environmental stewardship and their connection to economic growth,” says OIA Marketing manager Donna Martino.