New Data Shows the Power of Outdoor Recreation on the Economy in Chesapeake Bay States

Residents Spend More than $52 Billion on Outdoor Recreation, Employs Nearly 1 Million People at Nearly 700 Companies

Annapolis, MD – Chesapeake Conservancy President and CEO Joel Dunn issued this statement following the release of new congressional-level outdoor recreation economy reports for all 435 congressional districts from the Outdoor Industry Association.

“New data was just released showing the economic power of outdoor recreation in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and the results are staggering. In the Chesapeake watershed, more than $52 billion dollars is spent annually on outdoor recreation. Outdoor recreation employs nearly 1 million people in the six Bay states at nearly 700 companies in the watershed.

“We’ve always known that conservation and a healthy economy go hand-in-hand, and the data continues to prove it. We hope our elected officials will take note of this impressive data and factor it in to their voting on conservation issues. To provide places for people to enjoy outdoor recreation such as our parks and open spaces or the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, we need our elected officials to be thoughtful stewards of our environment.

“This new data from the Outdoor Industry Association comes on the heels of additional data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Statistics released earlier this year. For the first time, the federal government has included the effects of outdoor recreation as part of its annual assessment of the national economy. Outdoor recreation comprises 2 percent ($373.7 billion) of the 2016 U.S. Gross Domestic Product. According to Outside Magazine, that means outdoor recreation rates similarly or equally to the construction industry (4.3 percent); legal services (1.3 percent); and agriculture, including farming, fishing and forestry (1 percent). It even outpaces mining, oil and gas extraction (1.4 percent). And it’s growing. According to that report, the outdoor industry has a faster rate of growth than the overall economy: 3.8 percent per year vs. 2.8 percent, respectively.”


Chesapeake Conservancy is a nonprofit based in Annapolis, MD.  Their mission is to strengthen the connection between people and the watershed; conserve the landscapes and special places that sustain the Chesapeake’s unique natural and cultural resources; and restore landscapes, rivers, and habitats in the Chesapeake Bay region. Through its Conservation Innovation Center, Chesapeake Conservancy empowers the conservation community with access to the latest data and technology. As principal partner for the National Park Service on the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, the organization helped create 132 new public access sites and permanently protect some of the Bay’s special places like Werowocomoco, Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park, and Fort Monroe National Monument.