Last Friday, March 25, the Minnesota House of Representatives Environment and Natural Resources Finance and Policy Committee held a hearing on a bill to create an Office of Outdoor Recreation (OREC) in Minnesota.
According to RV Industry Association’s (RVIA) News & Insights report, the RV Industry Association, along with its partners in the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR), have been advocating for the establishment of OREC offices in all states to encourage outdoor recreation policy and economic growth among stakeholders in the industry of outdoor recreation at the state level.
Eighteen states have established OREC Offices or appointed a director of Outdoor Recreation to implement strategic plans to increase outdoor recreation by implementing programs, policies, and other initiatives.
In the hearing held on Friday, Winnebago Industries’ Vice President of Corporate Responsibility and Executive Director Katy Friesz testified on the significance of creating an Office of Outdoor Recreation.
Friesz has been a fervent advocate for the establishment of the Office of Outdoor Recreation in Minnesota and has even served as a member of the task force that suggested the establishment of OREC last spring.
An Office of Outdoor Recreation makes particular sense in Minnesota, where outdoor recreation is a way of life for many and a significant economic driver in the state, producing $8.4 billion annually and sustaining more than 89,000 people with jobs.
The RV Industry alone is responsible for a $2.4 billion economic impact in Minnesota and employs over 14,000 residents.
Many state government facets already promote and support Minnesota’s outdoor recreation opportunities and the economic benefits they provide.
Establishing an OREC office would facilitate these efforts and assure consistency and efficiency between outdoor recreation stakeholders and the government and would also increase access to outdoor and nature-based experiences for Minnesotans.
A strong, holistic outdoor culture and the accessibility to outdoor assets allow states and communities to draw new businesses; hire and retain employees; enhance the quality of life, attract all-year-round tourism, create sustainable local economies, and also increase access to outdoor to all residents, providing positive outcomes across health, economic as well as social indicators.
A Minnesota OREC would help focus efforts already in place across several agencies and enable to move the economy of Minnesota ahead.