Nevada boasts significant public land and remarkable natural features. Our landscapes position us as a real force in the outdoor recreation industry. Unlike our Western neighbors, Nevadans enjoy remarkably wild and rural vistas AND Las Vegas, one of the most visited cities in the world, complete with affordable airfare and incredible lodging. At the same time, Nevada’s outdoor recreation industry is currently undervalued and largely untapped. Earlier this year, a federal government analysis of the economic impact of outdoor recreation confirmed what conservationists have argued for decades: outdoor recreation is big business and growing. That is why a growing number of voices are calling for Nevada to establish a state Office of Outdoor Recreation.
Seven states have Offices of Outdoor Recreation, including Colorado, Montana, North Carolina, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming, while three have similar task forces (Maryland, Rhode Island, and Vermont). These state advocates differ slightly by state, but in general, act as high-level officials devoted to the health and growth of the outdoor industry. Nevada’s outdoor industry would strongly benefit from a state Office of Outdoor Recreation; outdoor businesses, sportsmen, conservationists and tourism interests all strongly urge legislative or administrative action in 2019 to open such an office in the Battle Born State.
Nevada is already demonstrating commitment to expanding our outdoor recreation and tourism. For example, Travel Nevada showcases opportunities to recreate on the vast public lands that make our state unique. Many businesses and other community stakeholders participate in the Travel Nevada effort. The State Legislature also demonstrated its commitment to public lands and Nevada’s outdoor heritage by establishing a state Public Lands Day holiday in 2017, celebrated annually in September.
Industry advocates and others think creating an Office of Outdoor Recreation is a clear next step to more effectively showcase Nevada’s vast public land resources and encourage dynamic growth in ecotourism, increase opportunities for outdoor business manufacturing and trade, and make our state more competitive with our Western neighbors.
According to the Outdoor Industry Association, Nevada’s outdoor recreation economy generates:
- 87,000 direct jobs,
- $4 billion in wage and salaries,
- $12.6 billion in consumer spending, and
- $1.1 billion in state and local tax revenue.
Nationally, the outdoor recreation economy:
- Contributed $373.7 billion to the Gross Domestic Product in 2016 (2%), larger than utilities and mining including oil and gas,
- Outpaced growth in the rest of the economy, growing 3.5% in 2016 compared to the overall economy’s growth of 2.8%.
Summary of Opportunities:
- Position Nevada as a competitive home for new outdoor recreation business, including manufacturing, major retail, and others.
- Plan and foster a vibrant outdoor recreation infrastructure to best increase and manage public lands use while conserving Nevada’s most wonderful places.
- Better understand the barriers to economic success for the outdoor recreation sector and dismantle them through community and policy solutions.
- Collaborate and coordinate the outdoor recreation goals of local, state, and federal agencies.
- Serve as a resource to help land managers balance development and conservation on our public lands.
It's time that Nevada established an Office of Outdoor Recreation through state legislation or administrative action to:
- Increase economic opportunity for outdoor businesses.
- Advocate for the conservation of lands and water bodies with high recreation value, including scenic/visual resources, and wildlife habitat to support hunting, angling and wildlife watching.