This is a new project that I am proud that Recreation Northwest is embarking on with Earth Economics. We will be working with Whatcom County, City of Bellingham, Port of Bellingham, Bellingham/Whatcom County Tourism and others to collect and share data and our findings.
With the leadership of April Claxton, Executive Manager, we are making this a reality. Our objective with this study is to bring the Recreation Economy into our our vernacular. By doing so, we can help elevate the importance of the impact that recreation manufacturers, retail operations and related services provide to our economy. This study will also provide relevance and value to the open space that Whatcom County has and why it is important to our livelihood. This is the beginning. – Todd Elsworth.
Download Recreation Economy Study Overview (PDF)
Overview: Outdoor Recreation is an important part of the local economy for both Bellingham and Whatcom County. Measuring that impact is not straightforward as it involves multiple sectors of the economy as well as land/asset valuation. Recreation Northwest has been working with national and local advisors to develop the best approach to analyzing and quantifying this impact locally. We look forward to working with local partners to produce a study (in conjunction with a state-level effort) to provide a Whatcom-county specific assessment of the economic contribution of outdoor recreation.
Background: Outdoor recreation is essential to the American economy. Every year, Americans spend $646 billion on outdoor recreation — on gear, vehicles, trips, travel-related expenses and more. This creates jobs, supports communities, generates tax revenue and helps drive the economy. Throughout America, people recognize that outdoor recreation and open spaces attract and sustain families and businesses, create healthy communities and foster a high quality of life.
In Washington, Outdoor Recreation generates:
$22.5 billion in consumer spending
227 thousand direct Washington jobs
$7.1 billion in wages and salaries
$1.6 billion in state and local in state and local tax revenue
At least 63% of Washington residents participate in outdoor recreation each year.
Above data provided by the Outdoor Industry Association in the Washington State specific report cited below.
The Washington State Recreation & Conservation Office is launching a study that “quantifies the economic contribution of outdoor recreation to Washington State’s economy”. They have hired Earth Economics from Tacoma to do the study, which began on May 27th, and will be submitting their report January 1, 2015.
The main priorities of the state report are to quantify the total annual economic contributions (direct, indirect and induced, and resulting number of jobs) of
–All expenditures related to outdoor recreation in Washington State
–All expenditures on outdoor recreation taking place on Washington State public lands.
Secondary priorities are to:
–Quantify the total annual economic contribution of expenditures on outdoor recreation taking place on Washington State private lands.
–Quantify the total annual economic impact of expenditures on all outdoor recreation by non-local visitors.
Instead of doing a stand alone study to determine the economic impact of outdoor recreation in Whatcom County, we have the opportunity to work with Earth Economics to collect and analyze relevant Whatcom County specific data while they are collecting information for their state level contract.
The Whatcom County level study will include:
–An identification of the recreational activities, related businesses, public and private recreational lands within the county;
–An analysis of the economic contribution of outdoor recreation to the county’s economy;
–A summary of the economic contribution-direct, indirect, induced- and the resulting number of jobs from all expenditures relating to outdoor recreation;
–US Dollar estimates of the economic contribution of outdoor recreation provided by the recreational businesses, lands, and activities in the County.
–A discussion of the connection between outdoor recreation, economic vitality/employment, health and well-being and the conservation, restoration and maintenance within recreational land areas as related to economic development.
Data Collection will be complete by December, 2014
Data Analysis, Final report and Executive Summary will be completed by March, 2015
The Recreation Northwest Team includes:
Staff: April Claxton, Recreation Northwest Executive Manager and Todd Elsworth, Recreation Northwest Executive Director
Advisors: Pamela Jull of Applied Research Northwest and Teresa Schmidt of Sprout Creative.
Study Funders: Whatcom County, City of Bellingham, Port of Bellingham and Bellingham Whatcom Tourism.
Supporting Partners: Bellingham Whatcom Chamber of Commerce, Whatcom Parks Foundation, Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition and American Rivers.
Recreation Northwest promotes outdoor recreation and brings people together to enjoy, preserve and improve the places where we play. RecreationNorthwest.org
Todd Elsworth is one of the many “Mossy-haired lunatics roaming the dripping peninsulas”, described in “I’m Here for the Weather” by Tom Robbins. As executive director, he works to fulfill our mission to teach the health benefits of nature, promote outdoor recreation, and steward the places where we play.