Maryland Workplace of Outside Recreation is Up and Working

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The Maryland Office of Outdoor Recreation is operational

February 1, 2022

J. Daryl Anthony (left) with Lieutenant Governor Boyd K. Rutherford

In September 2021, Governor Larry Hogan established the Office of Outdoor Recreation within the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and I am honored and pleased to serve as its first Executive Director.

In this position, I will work with DNR, the Maryland Department of Commerce and other government agencies and stakeholders to support and improve outdoor recreation and the economic benefits they generate across the state. This includes implementing the recommendations of the Maryland Outdoor Recreation Economic Commission (MOREC), which the governor installed by executive order in 2017. The commission has named dozens of companies and organizations Maryland Outdoor Recreation Ambassadors.

Led by Governor Hogan, Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford, Secretary Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, and Secretary Mike Gill, this is an exciting time to build and expand Maryland’s world-class outdoor recreation opportunities.

While new to this position, I am not new to DNR or the leisure industry. I have served with DNR for 35 years, most recently as Assistant Secretary for Land Resources. I joined DNR in 1983 as a park ranger at Patapsco Valley State Park. I held many positions within the Parks Service, including regional manager for the southern, central and western regions, until Governor Hogan appointed me assistant secretary in 2015. My family and I regularly enjoy the outdoor recreation opportunities that are near my home in western Maryland and throughout the state.

The new Maryland Office of Outdoor Recreation will provide a one-stop shop, advocacy, inclusion and state-level resources for the diverse constituents, businesses and communities who rely on and enjoy the continued growth of the outdoor recreation economy. Our office will work with leading outdoor leisure providers across the country to act as the voice for the outdoor industry.

The St. John’s Rock Off-Road Vehicle (ORV) Trail is one of two major off-road recreation areas that have recently opened in western Maryland.

Additional goals include improving equitable access to outdoor recreation, supporting outdoor recreation businesses that already exist across the state, working with local leaders to expand outdoor recreation, and increasing revenue streams from recreation opportunities outdoors.
The office will follow five pillars in its work:

  • preservation and management
  • education and human resource development
  • Economic development
  • Public Health and Wellness
  • equity capital

We know that Maryland already has a large presence in the leisure industry. In 2019, Maryland’s outdoor recreation economy generated 109,000 direct jobs, $14 billion in consumer spending, $4.4 billion in wages and salaries, and $951 million in state and local tax revenues. Investing in outdoor recreation and natural and cultural tourism supports many outdoor activities in Maryland, including hiking, biking, horseback riding, paddle boarding, cross country driving, boating, fishing, hunting, camping, swimming, wildlife viewing, and visiting historic sites. Maryland has long been known as “America in Miniature” for its diverse terrain that offers these opportunities and more.

Because of this potential, there is plenty of room for growth. The outdoor leisure industry is of growing economic importance in both urban and rural communities. The US Bureau of Economic Analysis recently reported that nationally, outdoor recreation accounts for 2.2% of US GDP, generates $778 billion in gross output and supports 5.2 million jobs.

Together with partners across Maryland, we will work to multiply our outdoor opportunities, expand and diversify our pool of outdoor recreation professionals. and expand efforts to attract leisure activities and support businesses and manufacturers.

I welcome contributions from anyone passionate about the natural world of Maryland. Anyone interested in learning more or contacting our office should stop by dnr.maryland.gov/pages/orc.

J. Daryl Anthony is executive director of the Maryland Office of Outdoor Recreation. Article appears in Vol. 25, No. 1 of the Maryland Natural Resource journal.