After its creation last year, the new PA’s Office of Outdoor Recreation launches first roadmap report

22 January 2024- Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn released the Growing Outdoor Recreation for Pennsylvania Conclusions Report and Roadmap for the Future, which creates an action plan to grow outdoor recreation’s positive impact on communities, creating jobs and economic opportunity, and providing pathways to enjoy the outdoors.

As he promised in his first budget proposal, Governor Josh Shapiro launched the Office of Outdoor Recreation in 2023 to make Pennsylvania the national leader in outdoor recreation.

“With a ‘get stuff done’ attitude, in the four months since the Office of Outdoor Recreation was launched the Shapiro Administration has created a plan including 50​ action steps intended to set Pennsylvania on a path of expanding our outdoor recreation industry and the economic impacts it has, at the same time improving the prosperity and wellbeing of all of our communities,” DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said. “We’re excited to get to work implementing them to benefit our Commonwealth, our communities, and all Pennsylvanians.”

The 32-page Growing Outdoor Recreation Report (PDF) includes feedback from stakeholders, outdoor recreationists, and the departments of Community and Economic Development, Health, and Transportation.

The more than 50 actions listed in the report will assist with the larger strategic priorities of building capacity within Pennsylvania’s outdoor recreation industry, building community and economic development capacity, and building the capacity for inclusive and equitable wellbeing for Pennsylvania.

Strategic efforts recommended during a series of statewide stakeholder meetings include:

  • Steering funding to the outdoors through policy, planning, and by communicating the economic benefit of the outdoors
  • Organizing the outdoor industry through an outdoor business alliance and identifying gaps to support businesses in the industry
  • Developing the outdoor workforce by elevating and stabilizing compensation, benefits, working conditions, and the professional status of outdoor workers
  • Communicating the value of the outdoors through collaboration with tourism and marketing partners
  • Supporting events, programs, and resources to expand diversity, emphasize inclusiveness, and address inequity in access to outdoor spaces and activities

“Outdoor recreation is more than pleasant outings to enjoy nature with friends and family — it is a vital industry in Pennsylvania and growing part of our economy that has the power to reinvigorate communities across the Commonwealth,” Pennsylvania Director of Outdoor Recreation Nathan Reigner said. “We see a tremendous opportunity for quality growth that creates entrepreneurial opportunities, attracts and retains highly competitive workers, and advances the wellbeing of all communities.”

Outdoor recreation adds $16.9 billion to Pennsylvania’s economy, supporting 164,344 jobs, and accounting for 1.8 percent of the Commonwealth’s gross domestic product (GDP), according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (PDF).