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Confluence of States officers met at Outdoor Media Summit to collaborate on growing the outdoor economy

The Confluence of States event included the signing of new offices of outdoor recreation and ways that ORECs can work with media and brands to further the outdoor economy.

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State offices of outdoor recreation are growing in numbers and importance, and they made their presence felt at this year’s Outdoor Media Summit (OMS) in Estes Park, Colo.

The annual conference of the Confluence of States, a coalition of states with government offices dedicated to sustainably growing the outdoor recreation economy, was held in conjunction with OMS.

Read more: The Confluence of States launched in 2018 with eight states

Eleven of the OREC directors attended the event, allowing them to network with outdoor media and brands with whom they shared their goals of growing the outdoor recreation economy for all. 

“The economic influence and bi-partisan political strength of the outdoor recreation economy is growing fast,” said Nathan Fey, director of Colorado Office of Outdoor Recreation. “The momentum behind the confluence of states, joining together to shape policies that are both pro-business and pro-environment, is evidence of the power within our industry. We are pleased to host the annual Summit and signing ceremony here in Colorado, where it all started.” 

On Thursday, the final day of both the Confluence of States and OMS, attendees of the events discussed ways they can collaborate to advance outdoor causes. That was the key benefit of co-hosting the summits, said Colin Robertson, administrator, Nevada Division of Outdoor Recreation.

Read more: The OREC movement is gaining momentum

“This was an important opportunity to connect state offices of outdoor recreation with the outdoor industry and outdoor media,” he told Outside Business Journal. “It helped us think about how we can better collaborate to advance the outdoor economies in each of our states. It’s important for offices like mine to be able to work with the outdoor industry, to break down the silos of state government and bring to bear economic development, conservation and stewardship, health and wellness, as well as education and workforce training.”

In less than four years, 16 states (Utah, Colorado, Montana, North Carolina, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, Wyoming, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire ,Virginia, New Mexico,  Wisconsin, and Maryland) have created government offices or task forces dedicated to outdoor recreation, furthering the political power of the outdoor recreation economy. An important goal, Robertson said, is to encourage more states to open offices of outdoor recreation and raise awareness of the $877 billion and growing impact that the outdoor industry has on GDP.

“With those four pillars of the outdoor recreation economy—conservation and stewardship, economic development, public health and wellness, and education and workforce training—there’s an angle for any state to come into the network,” he said.

Read more: Maryland announced the newest OREC office last week

The Confluence of States coalition, a bipartisan movement that brings outdoor recreation to the political table, dates back to January 2018 when the Confluence Accords were drafted. That document formally launched the Confluence of States coalition, allowing states to “cement their reputations as champions of a healthy outdoor recreation economy and join a vibrant group of peers working to advance this mission.”

The Confluence of States Annual Summit at OMS included support from such outdoor industry stalwarts as REI Co-op, Patagonia, Outdoor Industry Association (OIA), and Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR).