Outdoor recreation is a robust pillar of local, state, and national economies as well as a critical component of residents’ quality of life - leading more than 11 states to establish state offices of outdoor recreation. The organizational structure and mission of each office is tailored to the needs and priorities of each state, varying from temporary task forces, councils, and commissions to more permanent offices or advisory positions. These offices, though embedded within various sectors of state government, often coordinate across or blend the functions of economic development, tourism, and land management. While the state offices universally seek to develop the outdoor recreation economy, that economy fundamentally relies on access to natural landscapes, the vast majority of which are managed by the federal land management agencies in the Department of Interior and the Department of Agriculture.
This study explored how state offices have evolved and now operate, including their formation, goals and programs, internal organization and resources, and external partnerships. Through comprehensive interviews with each office’s leadership, secondary research, and close coordination with National Park Service and state office staff, our research provides a baseline understanding of the role of these new offices and situates them within the context of partnerships at the local, state, and federal levels.