State-Specific Outdoor Rec. Data Is Needed In Idaho

As a coalition of Idaho’s leading businesses and innovators, IBO believes our public lands, farms, ranches and outdoors are vital to our quality of life and our state economy. Our scenic bike trails, rivers, lakes and mountains are our playground. Our working farms and ranches help put food on our tables. Our outdoors are a valuable marketing tool for Idaho businesses trying to attract and retain skilled employees who could live anywhere.  

Photo by Trina Benson

Photo by Trina Benson

While scenic trails, rivers, parks, lakes and mountains are our playground and support public health, the total economic value of our outdoors remain largely unmeasured and undervalued in Idaho.  Nationally, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) published its first report in February of 2018, showing how outdoor pursuits like skiing, biking and boating, as well as the tech, innovation and gear companies that support these pursuits, help drive the U.S. economy.  

  • Our U.S. recreation economy accounted for 2.0 percent ($373.7 billion) of current-dollar GDP in 2016  

This initial outdoor recreation satellite account does not measure the value of outdoor recreation by state. We need this kind of state-specific data in Idaho, as well as the engagement of a broader set of stakeholders as we try to advocate for the total value of our public lands and outdoors.

The historical lack of detailed state-specific data regarding outdoor recreational activities continues to handicap Idaho, our private and public sector, as well as our state overall. With an abundance of outdoor amenities and public lands (63%), our Idaho way-of-life and diverse state economy depends on our ability to maintain our lands and waters. IBO creates a strong and diverse business voice to support research that measures the value of our outdoors in supporting investments, jobs, innovations, revenues and wellness benefits.  More data helps us plan, grow, and properly fund the outdoors as a dynamic and vital part of our Idaho economy. 

Heather Parkinson Dermott