Opinion – You may not realize it, but the Outdoor Industry Association is intentionally or not, advocating for our parks, our natural areas and our community. Especially here in Sauk County (Wisconsin’s current #3 county for tourism spending.) where we have yet to fully grasp the value of Outdoor Recreation as an economic driver.
The most recent Outdoor Recreation economy report for Wisconsin is worth looking at. Here is what Outdoor Recreation generates in Wisconsin annually;
- $11.9 BILLION in consumer spending
- $3.6 BILLION in wages and salaries
- 142K direct Wisconsin jobs
- $844 MILLION in state and local tax revenue
This is some serious money!
Now let this soak in a second… Participants in hunting, fishing and wildlife viewing were estimated separately and are not part of these figures. That is “NOT” part of the figures.
Now here’s the thing, when we advocate for maintaining our parks, from clearing trails, cleaning bathrooms, replacing signs & proper staffing… When we debate the care of Pewit’s Nest & Parfrey’s Glen… When we talk about making sure our roads (Like South Blvd & Hwy 113) have proper bikes lanes or that shops are open in the evenings… When we battle for the future of the Sauk Prairie Recreation Area…We’re talking about full-on competitiveness and customer service in a billion dollar industry. People don’t just drive up, drop their money in a box and leave. They expect well-maintained attractions, necessary services and proper infrastructure. They are our customers. They’re right.
The fact is that every time we talk about better care for our local environment, our parks and our natural areas here in the Devil’s Lake State Park region, we are not being tree huggers by any means, in fact, we’re being greedy little misers doing everything we can to protect and grow our local economy in the way that takes full advantage of this amazing part of Wisconsin in which we live.
It’s about time the Outdoor Recreation Association and the outdoor recreation industry as whole started pushing the bottom line realities. Outdoor recreation is big business and we need to get with the program.