On Tuesday, the federal government acknowledged the growing role of the outdoor retail and recreation industry in the nation’s economy as the US Senate unanimously approved the Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact Act of 2016.

The act directs a number of federal agencies to account for the outdoor industry’s economic impact in their annual tally of the gross domestic product and now heads to the President’s desk for his signature. The assessment “may consider employment, sales, contributions to travel and tourism, and other appropriate contributing components of the outdoor recreation economy.”

The Outdoor Industry Association hailed the act as a major legislative victory for their industry, as OIA Executive Director, Amy Roberts, said in a press release:

“The overwhelming, bipartisan support in the House shows that Congress understands what we in the outdoor industry have known all along, that the $646 billion outdoor recreation economy—and the 6.1 million jobs it supports—is a major economic driver in communities across the United States and should be counted just like any other major industry.”

Looking forward, this kind of data will be a valuable resource as we track the continued growth of the outdoor industry here in Bend. For a local perspective you can read the Bulletin’s take here.

The relevance of this policy in Central Oregon will be driven home on December 14th at the Oregon Outdoor Alliance’s bimonthly “Beer-Thirty” event. On hand at the headquarters of DrinkTanks in Bend will be US Senator, Ron Wyden, a co-sponsor of the bill and Cailin O’Brien Feeney from the Outdoor Industry Association who will provide an overview of Oregon legislative discussions around opening a State Office of Outdoor Recreation.

Interested in attending? Beer-Thirty meetings are $5 to attend or free for OOA members, bring your own cup or purchase an OOA branded Silipint for $10 at the door.