States Collaborate to Promote Financial Progress, Nicely-being by Outside Recreation

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Arkansas, Maryland and New Hampshire join a 16-state network focused on the great outdoors.

LITTLE SKIRT, Ark. – Heads of state from across the nation gathered in Little Rock to work together on policies to encourage outdoor recreation. The Annual Policy Summit was organized through the National Governors Association (NGA) Outdoor Recreation Learning Network, established in 2019 to help governors and their outdoor recreation staff promote strategies for utilizing unique natural, cultural and historical resources of economy, health and environmental benefits.

“Arkansas is The Natural State, and our beautiful outdoor spaces are one of our greatest assets,” said NGA Chairman, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson. “From hiking the Ozark Mountains to fishing and swimming in our beautiful rivers to digging your own diamond, Arkansas parks have something for everyone. I am proud to celebrate Arkansas’ natural beauty and to work with other states to appreciate and enjoy the outdoor spaces that contribute so much to our health and economic well-being.”

Arkansas, Maryland and New Hampshire demonstrated their commitment by joining the Confluence of States, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to advancing conservation and governance, workforce education and training, economic development, and public health and wellness. The three new signers bring the number of Confluence states to 16 – including Colorado, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.

The US leisure economy is significant. In 2020, the industry generated economic output of US$689 billion, accounted for 1.8% of GDP and created 4.3 million jobs, despite the industry slowdown and entry restrictions caused by COVID-19. Before the pandemic, outdoor recreation was growing faster than the overall economy in all indicators.

Beyond the manufacture and sale of outdoor products, outdoor recreation is an important economic multiplier. Outdoor recreation helps develop economies, increase rural prosperity, improve public health outcomes, and promote environmental protection and responsible resource development.

Governors across the country recognize the importance of this industry and are uniquely positioned to support its growth through government policies, programs and incentives.

For more information on the Outdoor Recreation Learning Network, visit www.nga.org/outdoors.