State officials on Wednesday unveiled the new Recreation Engagement Coalition of 50 people from across the state and the full spectrum of outdoor recreation charge with growing outdoor recreation in Pennsylvania.

"We are here to put outdoor recreation to work for Pennsylvania," explained Nathan Reigner, director of outdoor recreation in the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

The state already has a strong base, from which to build, according to Michael Hanna Jr., executive deputy secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. He said, outdoor recreation annually adds $12 billion in value to Pennsylvania's economy and 150,000 full-time jobs, accounting for approximately 1.5 percent % of the commonwealth's GDP.

He noted that the financial engine of outdoor recreation is especially important to many rural areas of the state.

Pennsylvania's reputation as an outdoor recreation state also factors into decisions by employers on locating or relocating their facilities, and the employment that they bring, Hanna said, pointing to a warehouse built by outdoor retailer REI in Bedford partly because of "an alignment between their brand and Pennsylvania outdoor recreation."

In addition, said DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn, "We have seen a tremendous interest in outdoor recreation over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic as people have grown to appreciate the role it plays not just for our health and well-being, but also for our commonwealth's economy. At the core of our priorities is ensuring outdoor recreation benefits all Pennsylvanians."

The coalition announced on Wednesday is part of DCNR's efforts for Growing Outdoor Recreation for Pennsylvania. The 50 members will be primary advisers in helping to build the state's Office of Outdoor Recreation.

Outdoor recreation contributes nearly $60 billion in Pa., new study says"Public lands are at the heart of outdoor recreation, making it critical that DCNR continues to focus on strategic growth and coordination to ensure the outdoors are welcoming and accessible to all Pennsylvanians and visitors," Reigner said.

A pair of other state agencies with large landholdings in the state, the Pennsylvania Game Commission and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, are represented among the member of the coalition.

Other organizations with representation range from the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation and the Keystone Trails Association to the Pennsylvania Environmental Council and the York County Economic Alliance to snack food manufacturers and whitewater rafting companies.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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