Michigan Outdoor Rec

Michigan Office of Outdoor Industry Director Brad Garmon traveled to Michigan Ice Fest, an annual ice climbing festival in Munising pictured here, in February 2019.

With its wealth of water, public land, trails and opportunities for outdoor recreation, Michigan is among the top states in the nation in terms of how much outdoor activities contribute to the economy – including ranking No. 5 for the economic impact of boating, No. 6 for RV use and No. 8 for hunting/shooting/trapping, according to the Morning Sun.

These figures are according to 2020 data from the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Unprecedented numbers of people have been out enjoying Michigan’s natural resources since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, with outdoor recreation participation seeing significant increases.

Annual Michigan state park visits swelled from 28 million to 35 million after the pandemic started, and visitation went up another 25 to 30% during the 2021 summer season. The number of people buying fishing and hunting licenses increased by about 10% and 5%, respectively, from license year 2019 to 2020. Off-road vehicle trail use jumped 20% from 2019 to 2020 and has grown another 13% in 2021.

Outdoor recreation also is a vital part of Michigan’s economy – annually generating $9.5 billion in economic impact, 108,673 jobs and $4.6 billion in wages and salaries (2020 BEA data).

And according to Tino Breithaupt, senior strategic advisor – corporate relations at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the manufacturing segment of Michigan’s outdoor recreation industry is growing even through the pandemic, with seven major expansion/attraction projects in the state between Oct. 1, 2020, and Sept. 30, 2021, creating 1,134 new jobs and resulting in $64.75 million in total capital investment.

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