A letter in response to “Governor announces new state office for outdoor recreation in stop at Carvins Cove,” published on July 18.

On behalf of the Chesapeake Conservancy, I would like to congratulate Governor Ralph Northam on the recent announcement that there will be a new statewide Office of Outdoor Recreation for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Virginia joins a growing group of states that have smartly responded to a booming national outdoor recreation economy by creating offices to promote outdoor access and to recruit recreation businesses. With so many amazing natural places, from the iconic Blue Ridge Mountains to the quiet creeks of the Eastern Shore, Virginia offers a full suite of outdoor recreation opportunities; the newly established office will play an essential role in expanding these opportunities for residents and for visitors.

As Governor Northam noted, Virginia’s outdoor recreation economy can be measured by 197,000 direct jobs and $21.9 billion in annual consumer spending (Outdoor Industry Association). We now know that the economic impact of outdoor recreation is huge, but what’s even more exciting is the reason behind the dollars and jobs figures. More than ever, people are eager to get outside, hop on a trail or into a kayak, and explore the natural world. When people connect with nature, they become stewards and advocates for our forests, our rivers and oceans and our wildlife. Tie in the public health benefits that result from people exercising in the great outdoors and investment in outdoor recreation yields triple bottom line returns: for public health, for the environment and for the economy.

Chesapeake Conservancy is on a mission to protect our region’s greatest treasure and to expand public access so that everyone can enjoy the natural wonders of the Chesapeake Bay. We look forward to partnering with the Office of Outdoor Recreation on this mission as Virginia seeks to take full advantage of the outdoor recreation economy.

JOEL DUNN

PRESIDENT AND CEO

CHESAPEAKE CONSERVANCY

ANNAPOLIS, MD.

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