By Jessi Loerch
Gov. Jay Inslee has created a task force to promote outdoor recreation in the state.
The Washington Blue Ribbon Task Force on Parks and Outdoor Recreation will work to support outdoor recreation and promote the jobs and businesses that are associated with it. The group is also supposed to develop a funding source that will support Washington State Parks, which has struggled with funding. A bill in the Legislature proposes allowing the parks systems to use advertising to raise funds.
“Outdoor recreation is an underappreciated part of our economy,” Inslee said in a press release. “We need to look at ways that we can support and expand this industry to create jobs, increase economic opportunity and support our rural communities.”
Inslee signed the executive order today. The order says that “outdoor recreation activities directly support 227,000 jobs and consumers spend $22.5 billion on outdoor recreation equipment, apparel, lodging, and other services, generating $1.6 billion in state and local tax revenue.”
“This isn’t just about Washington’s economy. This is also about a generational legacy in our state,” Inslee said. “We need to leave a Washington that allows every single one of us – young or old – to experience, play and relax in some of the most beautiful trails, parks and lakes in the world. I know we can find a way forward to making sure Washington’s beautiful outdoor spaces are promoted and preserved for generations to come.”
The task force’s responsibilities are:
1. Support and expand outdoor recreation jobs, businesses, and tourism across the state;
2. Promote and expand recreational fishing and hunting opportunities as a way of advancing local economies;
3. Promote outdoor recreation experiences and increase environmental awareness for youth, families, and adults;
4. Support Washington-based businesses’ use of Washington’s quality of life and outdoor recreation experiences in recruiting and retaining talented employees as well as in attracting new businesses to the state;
5. Develop long-term sustainable funding sources for Washington State Parks and other outdoor recreation lands and infrastructure managed by the departments of Fish and Wildlife and Natural Resources.
The group is expected to finish its recommendations to the governor and Legislature by Sept. 19.