Economic impact of outdoor recreation is vital

A new report from the Outdoor Industry Association shows anglers spend $35.7 billion annually on fishing. Brett Prettyman photo

By Brett Prettyman


It is a typical response from anglers when asked the value of being able to get out and stand in their favorite river hoping to hook up.

But a value has been placed on angling and it is impressive.

The Outdoor Industry Association released The Outdoor Recreation Economy Report Tuesday during a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

The report shows anglers spend more than $35.7 billion annually on fishing—considered recreational fly and recreation non-fly fishing. Outdoor recreationalists overall spend $886.8 billion each year. Additionally, outdoor recreation activities provide 7.6 million jobs in the United States, $65.3 billion in federal tax revenue and $59.2 in state and local tax revenue.

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Fishing, for the purposes of the report, included recreational fly fishing and non fly fishing. Brett Prettyman photo.

For years it was hard to find numbers indicating the economic value of these activities, but it eventually became clear politicians like to see a dollar sign attached to anything before they pay attention to it.

The report states policy makers must “protect Amercia’s lands and waters, the assets that are the foundation of the outdoor recreation economy.”

The spending and impact numbers for fishing were provided in agreement with the American Sportfishing Association.

“From the smallest rural towns to the most densely populated cities, outdoor recreation makes America stronger,” said Amy Roberts, executive director of Outdoor Industry Association in a prepared release. “This report makes clear that the outdoor recreation economy is not only thriving, but a powerful economic force that embodies the American spirit. Public lands and waters are the foundation of this powerful economic force. By investing in and protecting America’s public lands and waters, we invest in our future and the continued well-being of America. Together, we can thrive outside.”

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Fishing trips help provide jobs in local communities. Photo courtesy Brett Prettyman

Other significant numbers from the report include:

  • More Americans are directly employed by hunting and fishing (483,000) than oil and gas extraction (180,000).
  • Outdoor recreation on Forest Service Lands contributes more than $13 billion dollars to the national economy and supports over 205,000 jobs annually.
  • More Americans participate in outdoor recreation each year (145 million) than attend NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL games combined (134 million).
  • Annual outdoor recreation spending directly generates $267.9 billion in salaries and wages – fishing contributes $10.4 billion.

Brett Prettyman is the Intermountain Communications Director for Trout Unlimited. He is based out of Salt Lake City and can be reached at

By Brett Prettyman.