Nutmeg State Becomes 21st State to Create Office of Outdoor Recreation
WASHINGTON, D.C. – January 11, 2024 – Outdoor Recreation Roundtable applauded the announcement of Connecticut’s new Office of Outdoor Industry and Experiences, created today through executive order by Governor Ned Lamont at an event at Mohawk Mountain. This announcement marks the 21st State Office of Outdoor Recreation created across the United States. Outdoor recreation generates $4.6 billion for the Nutmeg State’s economy, is 1.4 percent of its GDP, and creates 45,776 jobs, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.
The new office is located in Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and will work to partner with the private sector to grow outdoor recreation opportunities and tourism in Connecticut. The state also announced the Partnership in Parks initiative, which will invite the private sector to submit concepts for outdoor recreation business opportunities in state parks that can help elevate the outdoor recreation and visitor experience in State Parks, expand tourism destinations, and provide equitable and sustainable access to the outdoors. Businesses, non-profits, and other interested stakeholders can respond to the Request for Information available at https://portal.ct.gov/DEEP-parks-partnerships.
“The new year is starting off on the right track with Connecticut’s new Office of Outdoor Industry and Experiences, which joins 20 other states in committing to supporting the outdoor recreation economy and its connection to public health, quality of life, and economic competitiveness,” said Jessica Turner, President, Outdoor Recreation Roundtable. “We look forward to supporting the office in growing the outdoor recreation economy in the state, connecting rural communities to economic development opportunities, and increasing access for all residents and visitors, especially those from backgrounds underrepresented in the outdoors.”
“Our State Parks are among the best in the country and provide the setting for many memorable outdoor recreation experiences,” said Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont. “Our private partners help facilitate those experiences, whether it be a great day of skiing here at Mohawk, tubing with family and friends on the Farmington River, or taking a ride on the Essex Steam Train. There are so many wonderful ways to experience the outdoors in our state, and with this new Office and RFI, we look forward to discovering new ways to play in the outdoors in our beautiful state.”
“Through this new Office and initiative, we are elevating the outdoor recreation experience in our parks, creating new tourism destinations, and building on the Lamont Administration’s commitment to providing equitable access to the outdoors,” said Katie Dykes, Commissioner, Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). “We’re eager to hear ideas from nonprofits and businesses about ways they could partner with us to provide expanded services and amenities for State Park visitors, that reflect our values for both outdoor recreation and natural resource conservation. And we want to hear from our visitors about the kinds of experiences you’d like to see result from these partnerships.”
“We’re thrilled to support Governor Lamont’s vision for the future of outdoor recreation here in Connecticut,” said Neil Johnson, Store Manager for REI Co-op in Milford, CT. The outdoor retailer has three locations in the state and operates a wide range of educational experiences and programs. “Whether you prefer to explore the waters of the Long Island Sound or traipse our extensive segment of the Appalachian Trail, the $4.6 billion outdoor recreation industry provides health, economic and social benefits to everyone in our state. We look forward to working with this new Office as we strive to make time outside more accessible for all.”
“It is exciting to see another state recognize the importance and impact of outdoor recreation to economic health and to quality of life,” said Katherine Andrews, Director of the Arkansas Office of Outdoor Recreation and Chair of the Confluence of States. “As Chair of the Confluence of States, I look forward to working with my counterparts in Connecticut to further promote and advance the mission of Confluence.”
The Outdoor Recreation Roundtable is the nation’s leading coalition of outdoor recreation trade associations representing the $1.1 trillion outdoor recreation economy. ORR focuses on the growth of outdoor recreation by building a better environment for the sustainable growth of outdoor recreation businesses and driving a broader understanding of the value of the outdoor recreation economy. Our membership includes national outdoor trade association members, business entities, nonprofit organizations, and universities — serving more than 110,000 businesses and representing America’s boating, fishing, RVing, biking, hiking, camping, hunting, ATVing, diving, horseback, and skiing communities among many more.