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Report: Outdoor recreation is an economic driver in Chesapeake Bay states

chesapeake conservancyA new report on the economic impact of outdoor recreation from the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis shows that outdoor recreation accounts for billions of dollars in value added to the state economy in Chesapeake Bay watershed states and billions in compensation.

The BEA found that the outdoor recreation economy accounted for 2.1 percent of total U.S. gross domestic product in 2019, or $459.8 billion.

“Outdoor recreation is very clearly a significant contributor to our national economy and to the economies of states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed,” said Chesapeake Conservancy President & CEO Joel Dunn. “The 2019 report from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis shows that the outdoor recreation economy continues to account for more than 2 percent of the U.S. GDP as a whole.”

The value added from outdoor recreation in the Chesapeake Bay watershed amounts to more that $63 billion, according to the report.

“The economic impact of outdoor recreation is not just impressive; it demonstrates that there is great demand by the public for outdoor recreation opportunities,” Dunn said.

Chesapeake Conservancy is calling for a Chesapeake National Recreation Area that will ensure a permanent and expanded National Park Service role in the Chesapeake Bay to create more parks, to enhance existing parks, to provide access for underserved communities to the Bay and its resources, to support outdoor recreation in the Bay region.

“Open space and nature are the critical infrastructure standing up this large sector of our economy, and we must continue to invest in parks and open space in order to meet public demand for outdoor recreation,” Dunn said.


Table 1: Outdoor Recreation Value Added, Employment, and Compensation as a Percent of Total, 2019. Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis, “Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account, U.S. and States, 2019,” Nov. 10

State Total Outdoor Recreation Value Added (billions) Percent of Total Value Added Total Outdoor Recreation Employment Percent of Total Employment Total Outdoor Recreation Compensation (billions) Percent of Total Compensation
DE $1.34 1.7% 18,186 3.0% $0.62 1.8%
D.C. $1.64 1.1% 17,218 1.9% $0.97 1.0%
MD $7.14 1.7% 89,335 2.3% $3.85 1.7%
NY $29.25 1.7% 291,429 2.3% $15.91 1.7%
PA $13.21 1.6% 170,565 2.2% $6.60 1.5%
VA $9.31 1.7% 123,369 2.3% $4.72 1.5%
WV $1.50 1.9% 22,543 2.5% $0.68 1.6%