Photo at right: Ferries motor across Puget Sound with regal Mount Rainier in the background. Photo by Kristine Kisky
Gov. Jay Inslee signed an executive order on Feb. 19 to create a blue ribbon task force to help solve some of the major challenges faced by Washington State’s outdoor recreation industry — including a lack of planning and funding, despite the sector’s importance to the economy and benefits it provides to the health and wellbeing of citizens.
According to the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA), Washington State’s “outdoor recreation generates $22.5 billion in spending, 227,000 jobs and produces $1.6 billion in state and local tax revenue.” OIA also notes that jobs supported by outdoor recreation make up 7 percent of non-military jobs.
Inslee’s 15-member task force will be comprised of representatives from public and private organizations representing environmental, recreation, education and business interests. With help from state agencies and the public, the task force will develop recommendations and an action plan to strengthen outdoor tourism and job creation, promote outdoor recreation and develop long-term funding sources for state-owned recreation lands and facilities.
“This isn’t just about Washington’s economy,” says Inslee. “This is also about a generational legacy in our state. 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.”
The task force’s recommendations are due to the Governor and Legislature in September, 2014.
To read the executive order, go to: www.governor.wa.gov/office/execorders/documents/14-01.pdf