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Feature Story

March 2018


Study Shows Economic Benefits of the Great Outdoors

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By Deborah L. Vence

The results of a recent study proved that there are economic benefits to the great outdoors.

The study—released by The Trust for Public Land, a U.S. nonprofit organization based in San Francisco that facilitates and funds the creation of parks and protected lands—quantifies for the first time the billions of dollars of economic benefits that are generated annually by the investment of Colorado Lottery money across the state in parks, trails, land and water conservation, playgrounds and recreation.

According to the study, The Economic Benefits of Great Outdoors Colorado and the Conservation Trust Fund, over the past decade, Colorado Lottery proceeds invested through Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) and the Conservation Trust Fund supported 11,800 jobs with $507 million in labor income.

In addition, by protecting land and water and providing places for people to enjoy the outdoors, Great Outdoors Colorado and Conservation Trust Fund annually help create $392 million in resident spending on sporting goods, which combined with nonresident spending, supports the state's robust sporting goods industry of 1,510 businesses with 14,800 employees that produce $4.3 billion in sales.

"The study shows that investment of lottery proceeds in parks, trails, conservation and outdoor recreation not only enhances Coloradans' quality of life, but also supports local jobs, strengthens our agricultural sector and propels economic development across the state," stated Jim Petterson, Southwest and Colorado director for The Trust for Public Land.

The study was prepared by The Trust for Public Land's Conservation Economics team, which conducted economic analyses in more than 40 communities, from Los Angeles to Massachusetts.

The findings in the study include the following:

  • "Over the last 10 years, investments through Great Outdoors Colorado and the Conservation Trust Fund supported 11,800 jobs and $507 million in labor income. This represents 17.2 jobs for every $1 million invested."
  • "Great Outdoors Colorado investments help secure water and productive farm and ranch lands for future generations of food production. The state's 33,800 operating farms and ranches generate $8.58 billion in agricultural production and support thousands of jobs across the state."
  • "Great Outdoors Colorado and the Conservation Trust Fund have leveraged nearly $3 billion in other federal, state, local and private funds, which means every dollar invested through these programs leverages at least $1.29."
  • "Each year, Coloradans receive a benefit of at least $399 million for the recreational use of the state's parks, trails, rivers, open spaces and playgrounds. Great Outdoors Colorado and the Conservation Trust Fund are major sources of funding to ensure access to nature, wildlife and outdoor recreation."
  • "Visitors to Colorado who come to the state primarily to visit the outdoors spend $1.21 billion annually and generate $44.9 million in state tax revenues and $66.5 million in local tax revenue."
  • "Investments through Great Outdoors Colorado and the Conservation Trust Fund facilitate $392 million each year in resident spending on sporting goods. Combined with tourist expenditures, this spending contributes to Colorado's robust sporting goods industry with 1,510 businesses that employ 14,800 Coloradans and generate $4.30 billion in sales."

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