Last week, when Wisconsin governor Tony Evers signed the state budget into law, he authorized the creation of the office of Outdoor Recreation within Wisconsin Tourism, an initiative intended to help expand outdoor recreation opportunities in the state.
Wisconsin became the fourteenth state to establish an outdoor-recreation office. The National Marine Manufacturers Association has advocated for creating these offices throughout the country. Having more states do the same is a goal of the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable.
“Our goal is to leverage the Office of Outdoor Recreation into more travelers, greater economic impact for local communities and new career opportunities for Wisconsinites,” Sara Meaney, tourism secretary-designee, said in a statement. “We consider this to be a game changer for Wisconsin. With one unified voice and shared priorities among stakeholders and resources, the sky’s the limit in growing this segment’s economy.”
The Wisconsin office will work on growing local economies through recreation and tourism. Outdoor recreation accounts for 2.2 percent of the total U.S. gross domestic product. In Wisconsin, outdoor recreation generates nearly $17.9 billion in consumer spending, contributes $1.1 billion in state and local tax revenue and supports 168,000 Wisconsin jobs.
NMMA and the ORR are working with governors and legislatures to create more recreation offices and are currently calling for California to do so. A bill creating an office in the state has passed the assembly and is awaiting committee hearings in the senate.