Virginia Governor Ralph Northam proposed last week a two-year budget that will include nearly $245 million for outdoor recreation and Virginia’s world-renowned natural lands – a welcome announcement for the broader outdoor recreation industry, including NMMA and Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR), of which the NMMA is a founding member. The new funding will help significantly expand Virginia’s network of regional trails, Virginia State Parks, and the Office of Outdoor Recreation.
“Virginia is home to a robust outdoor recreation economy, with 41 state parks and more than 450 miles of recreational paths,” said Governor Ralph Northam. “Our natural assets draw tens of thousands of visitors each year, opening up countless opportunities for economic development across Virginia. This increased funding will make significant progress towards both preserving the beauty of Virginia’s landscape and ensuring that this critical industry continues to thrive for years to come.”
Outdoor recreation employs more than 197,000 people and contributes an estimated $22 billion to the Virginia economy. The industry also generates $1.2 billion in state and local tax revenues. Visitation to Virginia State Parks increased 13 percent in 2020, with nearly 8 million visits. Some of the Commonwealth’s natural area preserves doubled the number of visitors compared to pre-pandemic numbers, and these increases have continued in 2021.
“More Americans than ever before have flocked to the great outdoors and our nation’s waters in search of rest and relaxation, making Governor Northam’s announcement welcome news for the broader outdoor recreation industry” said Frank Hugelmeyer, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) and Chair of the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR). “On behalf of the recreational boating and fishing industry, the number one contributor to the $689 billion outdoor recreation economy, we applaud this investment which will go far in ensuring Virginia’s lands and waters are readily accessible for all communities, while improving upon the state’s already robust outdoor recreation sector.”
“Governor Northam’s announcement of $245 million in funding for outdoor recreation is welcome news for the outdoor industry sector, the state of Virginia and all Virginians,” said Jessica (Wahl) Turner, president of Outdoor Recreation Roundtable. “The outdoor recreation economy pays huge dividends to Virginia’s economy, to the tune of $8 billion each year. With this additional investment in programs for trails, state parks and the state’s Office of Outdoor Recreation – headed by Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade for Rural Economic Development Cassidy Rasnick – Virginia will be able to promote outdoor recreation, develop partnerships, and create and improve recreation infrastructure. ORR thanks Governor Northam for his commitment to outdoor recreation and our growing industry. We look forward to continuing to work with the state on moving forward.”