Center for American Progress

RELEASE: America’s Outdoor Recreation Economy Faces an Uncertain Future in Trump Administration
Press Release

RELEASE: America’s Outdoor Recreation Economy Faces an Uncertain Future in Trump Administration

Washington, D.C. — On the heels of President-elect Donald Trump’s announcement that he will nominate Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) to be the next secretary of the interior, the Center for American Progress released an issue brief highlighting the immense economic output from outdoor recreation on America’s public lands. The brief provides recommendations for growing the outdoor recreation economy through investments in American infrastructure but also notes that the sector faces serious risks if U.S. land management policies are substantially altered through unrestricted extractive uses.

“President-elect Trump has promised to invest in America’s infrastructure, but it remains to be seen whether he will follow through with an infrastructure proposal that will actually help the many rural communities whose way of life depends on the health of our land, water, and wildlife,” said Nicole Gentile, CAP Deputy Director for Public Lands and co-author of the brief. “Investments in parks, trails, open spaces, and other natural infrastructure have oversize benefits to our growing outdoor recreation economy, but many of those jobs could be put at risk if the Trump administration pursues a dogmatic anti-environmental agenda.”

Rep. Zinke has expressed support for the outdoor recreation economy, including cosponsoring the Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact Act—a bipartisan bill that President Barack Obama signed last week—but has also taken a number of anti-environmental positions that could jeopardize the health of America’s outdoor recreation economy. Rep. Zinke, for example, has voted against cutting carbon pollution, eliminating protections for at-risk wildlife, and blocking the creation of new national monuments.

The Trump administration will be taking office at a moment when visits to national parks, forests, and other federal lands by tourists have never been higher. In 2015 alone, there were more than 300 million visits to national parks, making tourism big business for America’s public lands and the communities that surround them.

The brief released today provides a series of recommendations for boosting America’s outdoor economy through wise infrastructure investments, including by investing in healthy wildlife populations, which drive hunting, fishing, and wildlife observing; the Land and Water Conservation Fund; and access points for outdoor recreation.

Click here to read the brief.

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Tom Caiazza at or 202.481.7141.