Governors Association Helps Members Leverage Possibilities of the Great Outdoors

The National Governors Association’s new Outdoor Recreation Learning Network will help state leaders share strategies for maximizing one of their greatest resources: nature.

The 50 states have a lot of the great outdoors to share, protect, and promote.

And the National Governors Association is working to ensure that states have the best strategies to promote it at their disposal.

At its annual meeting last week in Utah, NGA announced the creation of the Outdoor Recreation Learning Network, which wants to teach governors and their staffs how to leverage natural resources to help extend economic, environmental, and other benefits to their states.

The strategy is based on an approach that Utah implemented in 2013, something that Gov. Gary Herbert (R), a former NGA chair, noted had offered a huge economic boost to his state, which has more than 110,000 employees in outdoor recreation jobs, contributing $12.3 billion to the economy.

“Utah launched the first state outdoor recreation office in 2013 to focus on recreation management, support recreation businesses, and ensure that our state’s cherished natural assets can sustain economic growth for years to come,” Herbert said in a news release.

Already, more than a dozen states have followed suit with their own outdoor recreation offices, but NGA hopes to further that growth with the new program, which will help connect the offices with information on  issues such as conservation, economic development, education, infrastructure, stewardship, and workforce training. Governors from a number of states, including Maine, Oregon, Vermont, Montana, and Nevada, took part in the network’s launch last week.

Nikki Guilford, NGA’s interim executive director and chief of staff, noted that the association’s roots are actually in conservation.

“This effort hearkens back to the founding of the organization,” she said in the release. “In 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt hosted the first meeting of the nation’s governors at the White House to discuss conserving America’s natural resources.”

The network, focused on peer-to-peer learning, already has an array of sponsors, including REI Co-op, the Outdoor Industry Association, and the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable.

(Robert_Ford/E+/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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