States Collaborate to Promote Economic Growth, Well-being through Outdoor Recreation

Arkansas, Maryland, New Hampshire join 16-state network focused on the great outdoors.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – State leaders from across the nation gathered in Little Rock to collaborate on policies to advance outdoor recreation. The Annual Policy Summit was organized through the National Governors Association’s (NGA) Outdoor Recreation Learning Network, which was launched in 2019 to help Governors and their outdoor recreation staff explore strategies to leverage unique natural, cultural and historical resources to help promote economic, health and environmental benefits. 

“Arkansas is The Natural State, and our beautiful outdoor spaces are among our greatest assets,” said NGA Chairman Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson. “From hiking in the Ozark Mountains to fishing and floating our beautiful rivers to even digging your own diamond, Arkansas parks have something for everyone. I’m proud to celebrate the natural beauty of Arkansas and to join other states in working to cherish and enjoy the outdoor spaces that contribute so much to our health and economic well-being.”

Arkansas, Maryland and New Hampshire demonstrated their commitment by joining the Confluence of States – a bipartisan organization dedicated to advancing conservation and stewardship, education and workforce training, economic development, and public health and wellness. The three new signatories bring the number of Confluence states to 16 – including  Colorado, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.

The U.S. outdoor recreation economy is significant. In 2020, the industry generated $689 billion in economic output, accounted for 1.8% of GDP, and created 4.3 million jobs, despite industry slowdowns and access restrictions caused by COVID-19. Prior to the pandemic, outdoor recreation was growing faster than the economy as a whole in every indicator.

Beyond the manufacture and sale of outdoor products, outdoor recreation is an important economic multiplier. Outdoor recreation helps develop economies, increases rural prosperity, improves public health outcomes, and promotes environmental stewardship and responsible resource development.

Governors across the country recognize the importance of this industry and are uniquely positioned to support its growth through state policies, programs and incentives.

For more information about the Outdoor Recreation Learning Network, see