Earlier in the year, the Outdoor Industry Association released an updated report on the economic impact from outdoor recreation. The long and the short: the outdoor recreation industry is an economic powerhouse contributing $887 billion in annual consumer spending. That’s almost twice as large as the pharmaceutical industry and nearing the size of the financial services and insurance industry.
Drilling down to Montana figures (where Roscoe Outdoor calls home), $7.1 billion in consumer spending is generated annually by the outdoor industry. Spending on outdoor recreation in Montana exceeds the value of statewide agricultural crop, livestock, and poultry products sold ($4.3 billion), according to the OIA report.
Our big takeaway from these latest figures is that economies evolve and preserving public lands is vital to ensuring the future of livelihoods of the people in Montana. Currently, 71,000 people are directly employed in the outdoor recreation economy in Montana. But many other sectors in Montana also benefit from the wealth of outdoor recreation opportunities the state offers.
No doubt, the explosive growth in Missoula, Bozeman and various other parts of the state is linked to the natural environment and the premium placed on “quality of living” and “access to the outdoors.” These places wouldn’t have had the boom in home building and business creation without the amenities of wilderness and nearby outdoor recreational opportunities.
In fact, 81% of Montana residents participate in outdoor recreation each year, according to the OIA report.
Like many great truths, this reality presents a paradox: continued growth hinges to a large degree on preserving wild places; consciously choosing in some places to curb or eliminate human sprawl and other impacts altogether.
The OIA report on Montana draws a similar conclusion:
Communities across Montana recognize that outdoor recreation supports, contributes to a high quality of life and—perhaps most importantly—attracts and sustains employers and families. Investing in outdoor infrastructure attracts employers and active workforces, ensuring those communities thrive economically and socially.
Montana is a place with hardy souls, people who are the salt of the earth. Let’s continue to honor this character and heritage, while also looking forward by creating a place that will be beloved by the generations yet to come.