MISSOULA – One of Montana’s newest government offices established by Gov. Steve Bullock in 2017 aims to grow and enhance the state’s multi-billion dollar outdoor recreation economy.
The Montana Office of Outdoor Recreation (ORE) started their Great Outdoors Brewery Tour in Missoula on Wednesday.
Montana is one of eight states that currently has an ORE agency but several other states are in the beginning stages of creating their own offices. The goal of ORE is to “oversee state efforts to grow and enhance Montana’s $7 billion outdoor recreation economy.”
ORE director Rachel VanDeVoort says that means the outdoor recreation economy for tourists and locals who might not even realize that they are a part of that group.
"We often don’t think about our lifestyle — our way of life as being an outdoor recreation lifestyle — it’s just our life. I talk to a lot of people that say ‘I don’t recreate’, and I said, ‘but you hunt and you fish and you ATV’," VanDeVoort said.
"Well, that’s a part of the outdoor recreation economy and the industry," she added. "And so I think it’s a lot of times those of us Montanans we think about outdoor recreation as it relates to the tourism trade. "And I have to remind everybody that…our lives are better than their vacations."
VanDeVoort said that of the $7.1 billion that Montana brings in from outdoor recreation about half is from the 12 million tourists that visit the Treasure State. The rest of the money comes from Montana’s one million residents.
More than 71,000 jobs are created by the outdoor recreation industry making it the second largest economic sector in Montana.