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Thursday, September 14, 2017
Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account Takes Next Steps
Outdoor recreation is an essential part of the American economy.  According to industry numbers, the various business sectors within outdoor recreation generate $887 billion per year in economic activity and provide an estimated 7.6 million direct jobs.  Now, thanks to strong support from the recreation industry, the federal government is working to develop a clearer picture of just how economically important outdoor recreation is.  The government's Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) – with support from recreation industry groups like the Outdoor Recreation Industry Roundtable (ORIR) – has established the Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account (ORSA) as part of the effort to measure the economics of outdoor recreation.  ORSA was created after the U.S.Senate and House of Representatives unanimously passed the Outdoor REC Act in November 2016.

BEA's first step is defining just what constitutes "outdoor recreation."  The Bureau is working with experts in academia, the private sector and the Federal Recreation Council to develop two sets of prototype statistics using broad and narrow definitions of outdoor recreation.

  • BROAD: All recreational activities undertaken for pleasure that occur outdoors.

  • NARROW: Recreational activities undertaken for pleasure that generally involve some level of intentional physical exertion and occur in nature-based environments outdoors.


BEA hopes to be able to release prototype statistics based on those definitions in early 2018.

The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) held a policy analysis seminar September 11 focusing on federal visitation and economic data.  To see BEA Economist Tina Highfill's presentation at the seminar regarding ORSA, click here (presentation begins at 03:30).  To view and download Dr. Highfill's presentation as a PDF, click here.

To read ORIR's comments on ORSA, click here.

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