Big Tent Rally Recap

April 25, 2016

Recreationalists spent $21 billion in Washington state in 2014

By Kris Parfitt

Photo at right: The most photographed person at the Big Tent Rally in Olympia was legendary mountaineer, Jim Whittaker. Photo courtesy of Big Tent Coalition


The average person in Washington state spends about 56 days a year recreating outdoors on 23 million acres of public land.

Not only does outdoor recreation bring an impressive amount of money to Washington’s economy, it also generates more jobs than information technology and the aerospace job markets; two large industries that also contribute to the state’s financial landscape.

These findings were published in the Economic Analysis of Outdoor Recreation in Washington State, conducted by the nonpartisan, nonprofit and independent economic research organization Earth Economics in 2014 and published in the 2015.

The report supports proof that investing in outdoor recreation yields tremendous economic and employment returns. Nearly 200,000 jobs are supported in Washington state as a result of outdoor recreation spending, according to the report. These numbers compare to other major employers in the state such as the information technology (191,000 jobs supported) or the aerospace industry (94,200 jobs supported).”

The findings were announced by outdoor recreation industry leaders at The Big Tent Coalition at the Big Tent Rally last Feb. 3 on the Capitol grounds in Olympia. It was the biggest event thus far in the four-year history of the Coalition, whose mission is to raise awareness of the importance of the outdoor recreation sector in Washington state.

Dan Nordstrom (left) and Governor Jay Inslee talk about outdoor recreation at the Big Tent Rally in Olympia in early February. Photo courtesy of Big Tent Coalition

Rally speakers included Gov. Jay Inslee, Jon Snyder, who is the new Policy Advisor on Outdoor Recreation and Economics, Senators Kevin Ranker (D-Orcas Island) and Andy Hill (R-Redmond), and Rep. Tana Senn (D-Mercer Island).


Legendary mountaineer Jim Whittaker, President and CEO of Outdoor Research, Dan Nordstrom, and former Seattle Sounder’s goalkeeper, Marcus Hahnemann, also spoke passionately about the significant role Washington state plays in educating and empowering local, state and national leaders and communities about the importance of outdoor recreation.

The Big Tent Coalition was founded in 2012 by more than 45 organizations that focus on outdoor recreation, environmental protection, and statewide land and conservation efforts.

The idea was to bring these organizations together to create a more influential political voice to call attention to the natural resources and recreational opportunities the Washington landscape offers.

Doug Levy, president and founding member of the Big Tent Coalition, explained how the organization found its name.

“A tent is an unmistakable symbol of the outdoors, and a ‘big tent’ welcomes lots of users and participants with a wide variety of perspectives and points of view,” said Levy.

Marc Berejka, Director of Government & Community Affairs for Recreation Equipment, Inc. added, “the power of the Coalition resides in its transformational strategy for outdoor recreation.”

All told, the top outdoor recreation revenues from people recreating in the state of Washington in 2014 was $21 billion. Twenty-seven percent of that total came from out-of-state visitors recreating outdoors.

That alone is enough proof that The Big Tent Coalition is an impressive and needed voice to have for the future success of our state’s outdoor recreation industry.


The Big Tent Coalition:
Economic Analysis of Outdoor Recreation in Washington State:

Kris Parfitt is the Managing Editor of OutdoorsNW magazine and is a longtime advocate for outdoor recreation and conservation.