OLYMPIA, WA – Gov. Jay Inslee’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Parks and Outdoor Recreation today announced its recommendations to increase participation in outdoor recreation and to grow Washington’s outdoor industry.
The task force recommended 12 actions to be taken in the near future to increase participation in outdoor recreation and the resulting social and economic benefits.
“Our state's population is growing at a tremendous rate, in great part thanks to our incredible outdoor opportunities,” Gov. Inslee said. “We must make sure that we don’t lose these great assets – our parks and open spaces.”
Outdoor recreation in Washington directly supports 227,000 jobs and generates more than $22 billion in annual spending on things like equipment, lodging and apparel.
Some of the task force’s recommendations are:
- Establish a high-level, focused coordinating council to serve as the state’s cross-agency outdoor recreation leader.
- Fund more programs that expose kids to the wonders of the outdoors. The task force recommended that the state fund the No Child Left Inside grant program and include outdoor recreation in classroom curriculum.
- Eliminate policy and tax barriers that prevent access to outdoor recreation, such as changing the state tax policy to encourage owners of large boats to stay longer in Washington waters.
- Establish an outdoor industry sector lead at the Department of Commerce, just like the state does for the aerospace industry and the maritime industry. The task force also recommended that the state designate and support outdoor recreation as a specific industry cluster within Washington’s economic development strategy. This will encourage policy-makers to work with businesses to evolve economic development strategies that more deliberately grow employment and outdoor businesses.
- Recognize that outdoor recreation is an essential government service and needs to receive more funding. The task force recommended several potential sources of revenue to fund state parks, state recreation lands managed by other state agencies and the other recommendations in the report.
- Retain current law that allows local agencies to use real estate excise taxes to maintain local parks.
“The recommendations from the task force are well thought out and practical. I look forward to working with the Legislature to see if we can begin to put the recommendations in place,” Inslee said. “If we can, we’ll have healthier families and bring more people to Washington to enjoy our great outdoors and support our outdoor businesses. We’ll strengthen Washington’s reputation as a great place to live, work and play.”
Inslee formed the task force in February by calling together leaders in outdoor recreation. He asked the 29-member task force to develop an action plan for increasing outdoor recreation activities and encouraging recreation-related jobs and businesses. The task force held five public meetings and received more than 3,000 public comments.
The task force was staffed by the Washington Recreation and Conservation Office. See the full report.
More information about the task force can be found at the Recreation and Conservation Office website.