FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – October 5, 2023
Contact: Maribel Castañeda
Arkansas Office of Outdoor Recreation
Contact: Katherine Andrews
Michigan Outdoor Recreation Industry Office
Contact: Brad Garmon
CONFLUENCE OF STATES LEADERS GATHER IN NORTH CAROLINA, ELECT NEW LEADERSHIP FROM ARKANSAS AND MAINE
~Katherine Andrews of Arkansas and Carolann Ouellette of Maine have been elected to lead the Confluence of States for 2024~
CHEROKEE, NORTH CAROLINA – The Confluence of States recently met at the Outdoor Economy Conference in Cherokee, North Carolina. The conference brought together over 600 outdoor industry leaders, advocates, business leaders, and stakeholders from across the country to collaborate on important issues facing the outdoor economy. The conference featured keynote speakers, panel discussions, and workshops focused on topics such as building vibrant outdoor communities, leveling up outdoor businesses, advancing inclusive and effective coalitions, and envisioning the future of the outdoor economy. Members of the Confluence of States also met with leaders of the Statewide Outdoor Business Alliance Network and members of the National Governors Association’s Outdoor Recreation Learning Network.
During the convening, Katherine Andrews, Director of the Arkansas Office of Outdoor Recreation, was elected Chair of the Confluence of States Coalition for 2024. Carolann Ouellette, Director of the Maine Office of Outdoor Recreation, was re-elected to serve as Co-Chair.
“I am honored to serve as the Chair for the Confluence of States Coalition for 2024. Arkansas is the only state in the middle of the country that by seeing the importance and impact of outdoor recreation has created an Office of Outdoor Recreation to capitalize on the growing outdoor economy and The Natural State’s abundance of natural resources,” said Katherine Andrews, Director of the Arkansas Office of Outdoor Recreation. “I look forward to working with my counterparts across the United States to further promote and advance the mission of Confluence.”
“I’m honored to be re-elected as Co-Chair. Collaborating with my colleagues from across the country is gratifying and I look forward to continuing to work with them as we shine a spotlight on the nation’s vital outdoor economy,” said Carolann Ouellette, Director of the Maine Office of Outdoor Recreation.
As the Natural State, Arkansas boasts a vast array of natural resources, including mountains, rivers, forests, and parks that are perfect for outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, fishing, and hunting. Recent efforts by the state government and private organizations have focused on promoting and expanding outdoor recreation opportunities in Arkansas. Efforts including The Natural State Initiative have helped to elevate the importance of outdoor recreation, attracting visitors, providing jobs, and improving the overall quality of life for residents. According to the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), outdoor recreation generated $3.5 billion dollars in economic output, comprising 3.1% of Arkansas employees and 39,929 jobs.
In Maine, outdoor recreation generated $2.8 billion dollars in economic output, comprising 4.9% of Maine employees and more than 31,000 jobs according to the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). The Maine Office of Outdoor Recreation works closely with partners from the public and private sectors to leverage Maine’s assets and outdoor heritage to grow the outdoor rec economy and brand.
17 states are currently members of the Confluence of States, having committed to supporting the outdoor recreation economy on behalf of their respective governors. Since the formation of the Confluence of States in 2018, the Chair position of the organization has been held by the leaders in Colorado, Oregon, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, and most recently Michigan. Additional members include Arkansas, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wyoming.
Working alongside outdoor recreation industry leaders, the Confluence of States member states are guided by four pillars of outdoor economy success:
- Conservation and Stewardship
- Education and Workforce Training
- Economic Development
- Public Health and Wellness
“It has truly been an honor and a privilege to lead the Confluence of States this year,” said Brad Garmon, outgoing Chair and Executive Director of the Michigan Outdoor Recreation Industry Office. “Expanding our engagement with prospective members like Arizona and Minnesota; deepening our relationship with our national industry partners and state outdoor business alliances; and elevating talented leaders like Katherine and Carolann all help ensure that the Confluence continues to be among the most connected and impactful networks within the national outdoor recreation movement.”
For 2021, U.S. federal data showed that the outdoor recreation economy accounted for $862 billion in gross economic output, 1.9 percent of gross domestic product, and 4.5 million jobs in 2021. From 2020 to 2021, the outdoor recreation economy grew nearly 19%, over three times faster than the U.S. economy as a whole.
“The growing outdoor recreation economy is not going unnoticed. In order to meet demands for outdoor recreation, we must continue to protect the natural lands, waters, and the communities that thrive around them,” said Rich Harper, Director of Government Affairs of the Outdoor Industry Association. “It is inspiring to see states taking up the call to drive equitable outdoor access across the country and we look forward to building on the momentum to bring even more families and youth outside.”
“We are at an incredible inflection point for state-level outdoor recreation economy development, and the Confluence of States is well-positioned to lead this effort under the leadership of Katherine Andrews and Carolann Ouellette,” said Chris Perkins, Vice President of Programs at Outdoor Recreation Roundtable. “We can’t wait to support their work and the Confluence of States moving forward in efforts to promote conservation, public health, economic development, and education, and share our gratitude and congratulations to Brad Garmon for all that was accomplished under his dedicated leadership.”
The Confluence of States is bipartisan coalition developing a national platform to grow the outdoor recreation industry, protect our nation’s wild places and transform conservation into a driver for economic prosperity.