The Baker-Polito Administration today joined state and local officials and industry leaders at Wachusett Mountain Ski Area to celebrate the establishment of the new Massachusetts Office of Outdoor Recreation.
The new office, announced today by Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, is within the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretariat. It will work alongside state agencies – Department of Fish and Game (DFG), the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), the Massachusetts Marketing Partnership (MMP) and the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism (MOTT) – to enhance outdoor recreational opportunities throughout the Commonwealth and support the associated economic, environmental, and quality of life benefits they bring.
“From the Berkshires to the Cape and Islands, the Commonwealth is home to a range of recreational opportunities for both residents and visitors,” said Governor Baker. “The new Massachusetts Office of Outdoor Recreation will help us continue to enhance this growing sector by partnering with engaged and passionate stakeholders.”
“Outdoor recreation is a consistent economic driver for communities throughout the Commonwealth, creating jobs and supporting small businesses,” said Lieutenant Governor Polito. “Our world-class parks, beaches, and trails attract visitors from all across the world, and the creation of this office will promote collaboration between local communities, outdoor businesses, and the Commonwealth on expanding these opportunities even further.”
Following the establishment of the new Massachusetts Office of Outdoor Recreation, the Commonwealth now joins 17 other states around the country that have created similar offices. Additionally, the office will focus on the following efforts:
- Coordinating outdoor recreation policy;
- Identifying funding opportunities for programs and infrastructure;
- Enhancing public access and recreation infrastructure;
- Supporting the outdoor recreation economy;
- Advancing equity and access to outdoor recreation opportunities; and
- Promoting Massachusetts as a great place to work, live, and enjoy outdoor recreation.
“Whether it’s a weekend camping trip with the family, a bike ride with friends, or a hike through a state park, spending time outdoors is beneficial to our physical and mental wellbeing,” said Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Beth Card. “Importantly, the Massachusetts Office of Outdoor Recreation will be a vital asset that will work to ensure these types of opportunities and more are widely available to all residents and visitors in the Commonwealth, focusing especially on our Environmental Justice communities.”
According to a 2021 report from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the outdoor recreation economy accounted for $9.5 billion in value added to the Massachusetts economy, or 1.5% of the Gross Domestic Product, and 93,422 jobs, which is 2.6% of employment in the Commonwealth. Furthermore, Massachusetts’ outdoor recreation economy grew 24% from 2020 to 2021, a strong indicator of how much residents and visitors alike value the Commonwealth’s outdoor recreational resources. Top sectors by economic value added include boating and fishing; hunting, shooting, and trapping; RVing; climbing, hiking, and tent camping; snow activities, such as skiing and snowshoeing; and motorcycling, ATVing, and bicycling.
“The creation of the Office of Outdoor Recreation is a huge step forward for Massachusetts, a state that offers a wide diversity of outstanding recreation opportunities,” said Jessica Wahl Turner, president of the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable. “Outdoor recreation in Massachusetts grew 24% in the past year, helping create jobs, supporting rural communities, and promoting conservation of the Commonwealth’s natural resources. We thank the Commonwealth of Massachusetts – including Governor Baker, Lieutenant Governor Polito, and Secretary Card – for their leadership in recognizing outdoor recreation’s importance and look forward to working with them to make sure residents and visitors alike benefit from access to outdoor recreation for generations to come.”
“Massachusetts is a beautiful state and we want people to know about all there is to do in the great outdoors,” said Keiko Matsudo Orrall, executive director of the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism. “We look forward to this opportunity to focus attention in this space.”
“As a supporter of the legislation that created this office and living, representing and recreating in Central Mass I am thrilled to see it come to fruition,” said State Senator Anne M. Gobi, Co-Chair of the Massachusetts Sportsmen’s Caucus (D-Spencer). “People of all abilities want to enjoy all that Massachusetts has to offer. This focus to join together so many diverse agencies, businesses, private and public entities will bring a renewed spirit of adventure and enjoyment.”
“Building partnerships to support outdoor recreation is critical to a vibrant 21st century economy and high quality of life in Central Massachusetts and every corner of the state,” said State Senator John J. Cronin (D-Leominster). “I’m grateful to the Baker-Polito administration for their leadership and vision to create this office.”
“I am delighted to attend this announcement today and appreciate the Administration’s commitment to furthering and supporting outdoor recreation opportunities in the Commonwealth,” said State Representative Kimberly Ferguson (R-Holden). “I look forward to working with this new office! What better way to kick off this initiative than to be at Wachusett Mountain on this beautiful day – a prime example of the many opportunities and benefits outdoor recreation has to offer.”
“Studies have shown that the outdoor recreation industry fuels local economies, but the benefits go far beyond revenue generation,” said State Representative Natalie M. Blais (D-Sunderland). “Growing the outdoor recreation sector can also improve health outcomes, increase awareness about the impacts of climate change on our natural surroundings and potentially shift demographics as residents seek to live and work in areas of the Commonwealth with year-round outdoor activities.”
“The Appalachian Mountain Club applauds the Baker-Polito administration for establishing the first Office of Outdoor Recreation in Massachusetts. We celebrate the state’s effort to support rural and urban communities and bolster local economies by improving equitable access to outdoor recreation opportunities,” said Susan Arnold, Appalachian Mountain Club Interim president and CEO.
“Massachusetts consistently ranks as a top quality-of-life state in the nation. The Massachusetts Office of Outdoor Recreation will help raise that standard for residents and visitors alike. From seashore to mountain tops, there are a diversity of landscapes, environments, people, and organizations to explore. Tying these together and telling the right story will be a significant benefit to our wonderful state,” said Jon Schaefer, CEO of Berkshire East Mountain Resort, Zoar Outdoor, and Catamount Mountain Resort. “Thank you to the Baker – Polito Administration and countless organizations and elected officials who helped advance this initiative.”
“Skiing and other outdoor sports are more than hobbies in Massachusetts, they are multi-generational activities that are part of our tradition. The Massachusetts ski industry provides thousands of jobs to residents of all ages and creates opportunities for people to recreate close to where they live and work,” said Jeff Crowley, CEO of Wachusett Mountain Ski Area. “Spending time outside, in the beauty of the mountains, brings us together.”
“Recognizing the critical importance outdoor recreation plays to both the state and national economy, we are pleased to support the establishment of the Massachusetts Office of Outdoor Recreation,” said Randall Lyons, executive director of the Massachusetts Marine Trades Association. “The recreational boating industry in Massachusetts contributes over $4 billion to the state economy and employs over 20,000 men and women within the state. For every $1 spent on transient dockage it equates to close to $4 to the local community where the visiting boater is docked. Boaters are helping to fuel the economy by spending money on shopping, restaurants, lodging, fuel and more.”
“The Trustees applauds the creation of the Massachusetts Office of Outdoor Recreation. We are eager to work with this office to promote the benefits and joys of getting outside because people who love nature will join forces to care for it,” said Interim President and CEO Nicie Panetta of Trustees of Reservations. “Residents who regularly spend time outdoors are more likely to become lifelong stewards of our state’s precious landscapes, helping to ensure their beauty and ecological health for generations to come.”
“From beloved destinations like the Inner Harbor Islands and Berkshires to boardrooms, retail shops, and manufacturers, the $9.5 billion outdoor recreation industry in Massachusetts touches nearly every aspect of our lives,” said Northeast Regional Retail Director Sonny Russell of REI Co-op. “We’re excited to see the Baker-Polito Administration’s commitment to the future of outdoor recreation and the health, economic, and social benefits a life outside provides.”