More People Headed Outdoors: Businesses Seeing a Big Boom

Posted at 8:41 AM, Aug 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-11 08:41:39-04

LANSING, Mich. — Crowded concerts, going to the movies, attending a baseball game. They aren't possible right now. That has a growing number of people turning to the outdoors for fun. As Maya Rodriguez shows us it's helping save some businesses and it's boosting struggling economies.

For more than two thousand miles the Appalachian Trail winds its way through more than a dozen states. It’s so-called “psychological midpoint” – the town of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.

Sandy Marra of the Appalachian Trail conservancy shared that “this community represents all the communities up and down the trail.” Sandy Marra heads up the Appalachian Trail conservancy. She says ever since the pandemic began there’s been a noticeable increase in people hiking the trail.

“On any given weekday, even in the dead of summer, typically you wouldn't see anyone out on our trails and during the week now, you could see dozens and dozens of people just hiking.”and that’s something other public lands across the country are seeing, too. "

In the time of COVID-19 and social distancing. Deborah Williams is with the Outdoor Industry Association in colorado. Deborah Williams of the Outdoor Industry Association “we did see a trend of more people exploring the outdoors in March and April and then that really did continue into May and June and what we initially saw is a little bit of escapism, in the first few weeks, actually continued”and that outdoor recreation can have a big impact on the economy.

In West Virginia, for example the outdoor industry is responsible for more than 91-thousand direct jobs 660-million dollars in local and state tax revenue and 9 billion dollars in consumer spending.across the country it all adds up to 887-billion in consumer spending supporting 7.6 million jobs and Williams says there’s the potential for that to grow even more in every state across America in part because of federal funding from the new “Great American Outdoors Act” just passed by Congress and signed into law by the President.

Deborah Williams of the Outdoor Industry Association shared “it will fully fund the land and water conservation fund to the tune of $900 million dollars. So, this is our country's really flagship mechanism for funding conservation and maintenance of our public lands and waters.”

Back at the Appalachian Trail Sandy Marra has found that “because of the pandemic and so many people wanting to get outside, we were just - the resource was being overwhelmed.” Sandy Marra hopes people now rediscovering the outdoors take care to protect it as well. “This is a great chance for us to reach a whole new audience of people.” This is their park, right? so, they get to use it and enjoy it, but they also have a responsibility too.” So that future generations get to experience what’s great about the great outdoors.

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