New report estimates value of outdoor recreation

Dec. 2, 2019
New report estimates the “value” of outdoor recreation in Ohio.

Outdoor recreation and ecosystem services facilitate vital, and likely growing, contributions to the economic well-being of the state, authors of a new Ohio State report say.

A new report, “Economic Valuation of Natural Areas in Ohio” released Nov. 20 estimates the “value” of outdoor recreation in Ohio, or the amount of money Ohioans and others spend on outdoor recreational trips in Ohio, and the contribution of this outdoor recreation to Ohio’s economy.

Key findings in the report include:
  • We estimate that there are 171 million outdoor recreational trips in Ohio, and that these trips are worth $3.6 billion per year to the people who take them. We also estimate that in the course of taking these trips, outdoor recreationalists spend $5.9 billion per year in Ohio’s economy, which amounts to about $34 per trip.A new Ohio State report, “Economic Valuation of Natural Areas in Ohio” released Nov. 20 estimates the “value” of outdoor recreation in Ohio.
  • The contribution of this expenditure to Ohio’s overall economic activity is estimated to be $8.1 billion per year, which amounts to 1.3% of Ohio’s economy.  The outdoor recreational sector is estimated to employ 132,790 workers in Ohio, or 1.9% of Ohio’s workforce.
  • Across the ecosystem services we consider—agriculture, timber production, carbon storage, and forest recreation—we estimate that the annual value of ecosystem services on Ohio’s natural land is $287 per acre of natural land per year, for a total value of $5.8 billion per year.
  • Forests provide the largest ecosystem service values, with the greatest value provided by carbon sequestration services.  On average, carbon sequestration provides $404 per acre of forestland in value each year.
  • Forests on public land generate $273 million per year in recreational benefits, or $309 per acre of public forestland per year in value. In comparison, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources spends around $244 per acre of public land per year to manage public lands, suggesting that the benefits of recreation on public forests alone outweigh the expenditure by government agencies to manage those lands.

“Data collected by the Terrestrial Wildlife Ecology Lab in the School of Environment and Natural Resources (SENR) were key in producing these estimates,” said Jeremy Bruskotter, a SENR professor and one of the authors of the report.  Other authors include: Roman Gioglio, Environment, Economy, Development and Sustainability Major; Brent Sohngen, Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics; and Tim Haab, Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics.

A webinar reporting on the significant value that natural areas in Ohio provide to Ohio's citizens and its economy is available here for viewing.