Great Outdoors Month highlights recreation impact on WA

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June is Great Outdoors Month, which also underscores the importance of outdoor recreation in Washington state.

As temperatures warm up, people are enjoying nature. Five years ago, Congress designated June Great Outdoors Month to highlight the trove of outside opportunities across the nation. With three national parks and state parks, Washington has a plethora of places for people to get outside.

Whitney Potter Schwartz, senior vice president of the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable, said businesses help support these opportunities.

“Many outdoor recreation businesses are small businesses that are really the cornerstones of communities across the country, rural communities especially,” Potter Schwartz pointed out.

Outdoor recreation generates $20 billion in Washington, according to the roundtable, and supports 121,000 jobs. Nationally, outdoor recreation accounts for 2.2% of the country’s GDP.

Potter Schwartz emphasized getting outdoors is proven to be good for people’s health and her organization wants to ensure everyone has access.

“There’s so many benefits,” Potter Schwartz explained. “Whether that’s health benefits, economic benefits, to being outside that we really, truly believe everyone should have that opportunity, regardless of your background or ability, to really experience it and enjoy nature.”

The month recognizing the outdoors started as Great Outdoors Week under President Bill Clinton in 1998.

Featured photo: Olympic National Park received nearly 3 million visitors in 2023. (Francisco/Adobe Stock)

Eric Tegethoff

Eric Tegethoff is a journalist covering the Northwest. Eric has worked as a reporter for KBOO, XRAY FM, and Oregon Public Broadcasting in Portland, Oregon, as well as other print and digital news media. In 2012, Eric traveled to North Dakota to write about the Bakken region oil boom. He's also worked at a movie theater, as a campaign canvasser and quality assurance at a milk packaging factory. Eric is originally from Orlando, Florida. He graduated from the University of Florida in 2010.

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