Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account

What's New...

What's Ahead

  • Prototype statistics coming in early 2018
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Outdoor recreationDo you hang ten or hang glide, hike trails or hoist sails, pedal a bike or paddle a boat? If you're into camping, caving or catching fish; birdwatching, bow hunting or bagging quail; scaling mountains or shredding the slopes, your outdoor fun has a place in our latest project.

BEA is developing a new set of statistics to measure the economics of outdoor recreation. That includes jobs, spending, and the production of goods and services. BEA expects to release experimental statistics in 2018.

Of course, the economic effects of people buying snorkels or ski boots are already woven invisibly into our overall U.S. statistics, such as gross domestic product. What the new account will do is gather these threads together and expand the level of detail, revealing a picture of outdoor recreation that you can't see in the current statistics.

This will deepen public understanding of outdoor recreation's economic impact and better inform decision-making by policymakers, businesspeople, and the managers of public lands and waters.

This new Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account, established by law, will join other BEA satellite accounts that focus on health care, travel and tourism, and arts and cultural production.

Once we've produced prototype statistics, we'll gather feedback to help finalize the definitions, data sources and methodology for the outdoor recreation account.

Where We Are Now

Creating a new satellite account is no walk in the park. Just taking the first step—defining "outdoor recreation"—has required careful research, discussion and decisions. To develop these statistics, BEA is working closely with the Federal Recreation Council , made up of agencies that are prominent stewards of public lands and waters. We are also gathering input from experts in the field of outdoor economics. And we're listening to public comments. BEA plans to publish two sets of prototype statistics on outdoor recreation, one using a broad and the other a narrow definition.

Broad: All recreational activities undertaken for pleasure that occur outdoors (such as visiting the beach).

Narrow: Recreational activities undertaken for pleasure that generally involve some level of intentional physical exertion and occur in nature-based environments outdoors (such as camping).

Using these working definitions, BEA is identifying data sources and methodologies. Once the prototype statistics are published in early 2018, there will be additional opportunities for interested parties to provide feedback. The Bureau will incorporate this feedback into its final decision making.


Blog Posts

Legislative Background

Federal Recreation Council Members

U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Contact Us

Email outdoorrecreation@bea.gov with comments or questions, or call BEA Public Affairs at (301) 278-9004 or Tina Highfill at (301) 278-9266.