Wisconsin establishes outdoor recreation office

Home of the Ice Age trail and Wigwam Mills, this Midwestern state has lots to boast about.

The windswept beaches and cliffs of Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. The rolling hills of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. The quiet waters of a stretch of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway. The 47-run Cascade Mountain ski area. These places, along with many more, will be promoted by Wisconsin’s new outdoor recreation office.

On July 3, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers signed off on a budget that allocates money toward the office and the creation of three staff positions under the Department of Tourism. According to Outdoor Industry Association, Wisconsin generates $17.9 billion in consumer spending annually and supports 168,000 jobs.

“We not only want Wisconsin to remain a top-notch four-season tourist destination, but we also want to create a climate that will spur business growth and attract new businesses to Wisconsin,” Tourism Secretary-designee Sara Meaney said in a news release. “Our goal is to leverage the Office of Outdoor Recreation into more travelers, greater economic impact for local communities, and new career opportunities for Wisconsinites.”

Wisconsin is now the 14th state—and first in the Midwest—with either an office or task force dedicated solely to strengthening economic development and the outdoor recreation economy. Puerto Rico has also created an office, and there are talks among legislators in California and New Hampshire.

Margaret Newhard and Chris Chesebro, the fourth generation owners of Wigwam Mills, are hopeful for what the office will bring to their state.

 “As a Sheboygan, Wisconsin-based Company who has supported the needs of global outdoor enthusiasts since 1905, Wigwam Mills salutes Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, and the Wisconsin legislature, for the foresight to establish our State’s new Office of Outdoor Recreation,” Newhard said. “We are thankful for the additional momentum this office can bring to Wigwam and other Wisconsin outdoor brands in the way of recognition and growth both nationally and internationally.”