ST. GEORGE — Five new states signed a pledge to support outdoor recreation and environmental stewardship at the Utah Outdoor Recreation Summit on Thursday.
The new signatories include Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico and Virginia and bring the total number of member states to 13.
The Confluence of States was first formed in July of last year, when representatives of Utah, Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, Washington, Oregon, North Carolina and Vermont signed the original agreement in Denver.
The accords require member states to satisfy five criteria, which include appointing directors of outdoor recreation and providing them with budgets.
“This is a great movement to show that this is an industry that’s worth a whole lot more money than people ever thought it to be,” said Tom Adams, the Utah Director of Outdoor Recreation.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis reported earlier this year that the outdoor recreation economy comprises 2.2% of the national GDP, or roughly $427 billion.
The sector generated more than $5 billion dollars in Utah in 2017.
“Utah is paving the way in outdoor recreation and making it this professional, systemic institution and economy,” said Axie Navas, the director of the outdoor recreation division of New Mexico’s economic development department.
Utah became the first state in the country to establish an office of outdoor recreation in 2013. Of the 16 states that now have such offices, Utah’s remains the largest.
The “confluence of states” also includes major corporates partners like REI.
David Fuchs is a Report for America corps member who reports from KUER's Southwest Bureau in St. George.