State of the Outdoors Event Highlights Economic Importance of Recreation Industry

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Parks and open space are vital to the economy, according to organizers of an event this past Monday called "State of the Outdoors." 

Open space draws tourists, helps manage stormwater, and increases property values among other economic benefits, according to a recent study from the Trust for Public Land, and Colorado Springs residents spend more than $32 million annually on sports, recreation, and exercise equipment.  

Luis Benitez directs the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Industry Office and spoke at the State of the Outdoors event. He says he's visiting different regions to discuss how each is taking advantage of open space.

"I think talking about access and talking about economic development and the jobs that these things create: I think that's the opportunity in front of Colorado Springs," Benitez says.

Chamber and Economic Development Corporation President Dirk Draper says the recreation industry brings billions to the state each year.

"We want to make sure people know that this is an important part of the quality of life in this area. It's something we talk about with local companies in this area and companies that are looking to expand or move to Colorado Springs, just to make them aware of that aspect of quality of life in our region."

Benitez says "Ring the Peak," which would create a complete trail route around Pikes Peak, is an example of a project with beneficial economic potential in this region of the state. 

According to Friends of the Peak, non-profit focused on preservation of land around the mountain, that project is 80% complete.