Massachusetts Announces New Office of Outdoor Recreation
The office will advance outdoor opportunities, policies, and infrastructure in the Bay State
Massachusetts became the latest state to open an Office of Outdoor Recreation, joining 17 other states across the country that aim to galvanize and harness the collective power of outdoor businesses.
The new office, announced yesterday by Lt. Governor Karyn Polito at a ceremony at Wachusett Mountain ski area, is within the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) and will work alongside state agencies, including the Department of Fish and Game, the Department of Conservation and Recreation, and the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism, to enhance outdoor recreational opportunities throughout the state and support the associated economic, environmental, and quality of life benefits they bring.
What does this mean for outdoor recreationists in Massachusetts? “When a state like Massachusetts invests in outdoor businesses and opens an OREC office, it means new business recruitment and retention, resilient rural communities, equitable access to the outdoors, and increased public health and wellness, not to mention making states more competitive, period,” said Chris Perkins, senior director at Outdoor Recreation Roundtable.
“Outdoor recreation is a consistent economic driver for communities throughout the Commonwealth, creating jobs and supporting small businesses,” said Lieutenant Governor Polito. “Our world-class parks, beaches, and trails attract visitors from all across the world, and the creation of this office will promote collaboration between local communities, outdoor businesses, and the Commonwealth on expanding these opportunities even further.”
According to a 2021 report from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the outdoor recreation economy in Massachusetts accounted for $ 9.5 billion or 1.5% of GDP and 93,422 jobs or 2.6% of employment in the Commonwealth. This represents 24 percent growth over the previous year.
A director has not yet been hired, but the state has posted the job opening. The office will focus on the following efforts:
- Coordinating outdoor recreation policy;
- Identifying funding opportunities for programs and infrastructure;
- Enhancing public access and recreation infrastructure;
- Supporting the outdoor recreation economy;
- Advancing equity and access to outdoor recreation opportunities; and,
- Promoting Massachusetts as a great place to work, live, and enjoy outdoor recreation.
“With as much participation and investment as there has been in outdoor recreation of late, and more people than ever moving to and working in places with great outdoor recreation opportunities, I predict that a number of states will be watching Massachusetts’ announcement today and asking themselves, “why can’t we be next?” said Perkins.