Secretary Jewell Highlights Economic Benefits of Recreation, Strong Trade Agreements, in Discussion with Outdoor Retailers

Last edited 09/29/2021

SEATTLE, WA – U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today met with representatives of the outdoor recreation industry, Members of Congress, and local leaders for a roundtable discussion on the value of outdoor recreation in generating economic growth and supporting jobs.

“Consumers spend billions of dollars each year on outdoor recreation, supporting more than 6 million jobs in the United States,” said Secretary Jewell. “It is important both to our economy and to the promotion of healthy lifestyles to encourage people, especially young people, to paddle a river, take a bike trip or a hike, cast a line in a lake, or connect in other ways with nature and the great outdoors.”

During the roundtable, Secretary Jewell also discussed the $13.2 billion investment in the President's FY2016 budget proposal for all activities supported by the Department of the Interior, including for our national parks and public lands – places special to our nation that also boost local economies. According to the most recent U.S. Department of the Interior Economic Report, public lands managed by Interior hosted an estimated 407 million recreation visits in 2013, which contributed about $25 billion in value added, $41 billion in economic output, and supported about 355,400 jobs.

“The outdoor industry is grateful to Secretary Jewell for her leadership in encouraging every American to get outside on our nation's iconic land and waters,” said Steve Barker, Executive Director of the Outdoor Industry Association. “In cities and counties across the United States, the outdoor industry powers a massive economic engine. The significant benefits from outdoor recreation are clear and we call on Congress to adequately fund Interior's investment in healthy economies and healthy communities.”

Secretary Jewell also discussed the importance of enacting Trade Promotion Authority in order to give the Obama Administration the ability to negotiate trade agreements with other countries that will strengthen the economy, establish trade rules that support American jobs, and put American workers first, and establish high standards that require the protection of the environment and wildlife.

“Trade is an integral part of our economy, and the Obama Administration is working to set strong environmental standards through trade agreements so that commitments are fully enforceable and on equal footing with commercial obligations,” said Jewell. “More than 95 percent of the world's consumers live outside our borders and, by 2030, it is expected that there will be more than 3 billion middle class consumers in Asia alone. We can't afford to let the opportunity to open these growing markets to American products pass us by.”

Jewell emphasized that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement that President Obama is negotiating with countries in the Asia-Pacific region is a new kind of trade deal that will support U.S. jobs and put American workers first by opening up those markets to exports and making countries abide by fair wage and environmental standards if they want to send their goods to the United States.

The Secretary noted that TPP can help combat the epidemic of illegal trading and poaching that is threatening many species of animals, including African elephants. The reduction of tariffs and trade barriers can increase the competitiveness of the outdoor recreation industry and improve consumer supply of outdoor recreation goods in other countries. Good products that encourage people to get outside and enjoy the outdoors will build a strong base for conservation. Strengthening international trade and investment relations can also facilitate more foreign tourism around public lands, which benefits gateway communities.

In addition to trade, Jewell discussed the importance of connecting young adults with the great outdoors through the Department's ambitious youth initiative and the Obama Administration's Every Kid in a Park initiative, which will provide 4th grade students and their families free admission to all national parks and other federal lands and waters for a full year, starting with the 2015-2016 school year. Jewell also renewed her call for Congress to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which uses revenue from oil and gas development from federal lands and waters to support recreation and conservation projects in communities across America.

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