Sacramento, California - Yesterday, Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella) stood alongside a vast coalition of our state’s leading outdoor recreation industry leaders and advocates in staunch support of legislative efforts to establish a California Office of Sustainable Outdoor Recreation.
“California’s outdoor recreation economy is the largest in the United States, generating over $92 billion in economic stimulus and creating more than 691,000 direct jobs,” explained Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Water, Parks, and Wildlife. “AB 1918 creates a new Office of Sustainable Outdoor Recreation that will help give this economic powerhouse the attention and support it deserves while expanding recreational opportunities for residents. These types of activities serve as a gateway to a myriad of other critical health, education, and social benefits that will allow our communities to flourish alongside our economy.”
Garcia’s proposed measure, AB 1918, would establish the Office of Sustainable Outdoor Recreation within the Natural Resources Agency. Specifically, the Office will help plan and implement coordinated strategies to develop jobs and economic growth in the outdoor recreation industry, to develop strategies concerning outdoor recreation amenities and experiences, and to serve as a central point of contact amongst the multitude of actors involved in this sector.
“The outdoor economy is an important sector of our local economy whether it be guided backpacking hikes through Joshua Tree National Park, horseback riding, mountain biking, rock climbing, or the multiple off-roading or ATV parks we have nearby,” stated Garcia. “A dedicated office promoting these outdoor pursuits would help our community better leverage its unique geographical attributes for optimal economic impact.”
In 2016 the Greater Palm Springs Visitor bureau produced a Destination Development Plan that explicitly called for utilizing the beauty of our natural attractions and highlighted how important developing the outdoor industry would be to the valley. The report stated that “nowhere in the lower 48 states can you find more hiking trails (140) or trail mileage (1,250) than within our area.” Additionally, it highlighted that 53% of visitors who participated in outdoor recreation stay in the area longer than a week as opposed to 32% of visitors who did not participate in outdoor recreation.
Despite the fact California by far holds the largest outdoor recreation economy in the nation; eight other states have already established similar offices of outdoor recreation or state-level positions dedicated to this same purpose. The Office envisioned by this measure will work in conjunction with the diverse public, private, and nonprofit partners to help make our state’s programs and policies more relevant to the experiences that people are having and want to have in the outdoors.
“Outdoor recreation means business for California,” said Cailin O’Brien-Feeney, State, and Local Policy Manager of Outdoor Industry Association. “The impact of outdoor recreation on the state’s economy is larger here than in any other state, with more than $92 billion in consumer spending in the Golden State alone. Creating a new Office of Sustainable Outdoor Recreation recognizes the tremendous economic and workforce development contribution of outdoor recreation and the potential for growing its impact even more.”
The Outdoor Industry Association was one of over a dozen industry experts and recreation policy enthusiasts that gathered to celebrate this dynamic industry and support AB 1918, Office of Sustainable Outdoor Recreation.