Massachusetts is the latest state to open an outdoor recreation bureau and joins 17 other states across the country aiming to strengthen and harness the collective power of outdoor businesses.
The new office opened yesterday by Lt. Announced at a ceremony at the Wachusett Mountain ski area, Governor Karyn Polito is part of the Executive Office for Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) and will work with state agencies including the Department of Fish and Game, Department of Conservation and Recreation and the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism to enhance outdoor recreation opportunities statewide and support the associated economic, environmental and quality of life benefits.
What does this mean for outdoor recreational athletes in Massachusetts? “When a state like Massachusetts invests in outdoor businesses and opens an OREC office, it means attracting and retaining new businesses, resilient rural communities, equitable access to nature, and greater public health and well-being, not to mention making states more competitive.” to make, period,” said Chris Perkins, Senior Director at Outdoor Recreation Roundtable.
“Outdoor recreation is an enduring economic engine for communities across the Commonwealth, creating jobs and supporting small businesses,” Lieutenant Governor Polito said. “Our world-class parks, beaches and trails attract visitors from around the world, and the establishment of this office will encourage collaboration between local communities, outdoor businesses and the Commonwealth to expand these opportunities even further.”
According to a 2021 report by the US Bureau of Economic Analysis, Massachusetts’ outdoor recreation economy accounted for $9.5 billion, or 1.5% of GDP, and 93,422 jobs, or 2.6% of Commonwealth employment. This corresponds to growth of 24 percent compared to the previous year.
A director has not yet been hired, but the state has advertised the vacancy. The office will focus on the following efforts:
- coordination of outdoor leisure policy;
- Identification of funding opportunities for programs and infrastructure;
- improving public access and recreation infrastructure;
- supporting the outdoor leisure economy;
- promoting equity and access to outdoor recreation; and,
- Promoting Massachusetts as a great place to work, live and relax outdoors.
“With so much involvement and investment in outdoor recreation recently, and more people than ever moving to and working in places with great outdoor recreation opportunities, I expect a number of states will hear Massachusetts’ announcement today will observe and ask themselves, “why can’t we be next?” said Perkins.