Virginia Governor Ralph Northam

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced that he is proposing a two-year budget that will include nearly $245 million for outdoor recreation and Virginia’s world-renowned public lands, according to a News & Insights report by the RV Industry Association (RVIA). The governor’s office says the new funding will help with a significant expansion of the Commonwealth’s network of regional trails, Virginia State Parks, and the Office of Outdoor Recreation.

“Virginia is home to a robust outdoor recreation economy, with 41 state parks and more than 450 miles of recreational paths,” Northam said during the announcement. “Our natural assets draw tens of thousands of visitors each year, opening up countless opportunities for economic development across Virginia. This increased funding will make significant progress towards both preserving the beauty of Virginia’s landscape and ensuring that this critical industry continues to thrive for years to come.”

In 2019, Northam established an Office of Outdoor Recreation in Virginia responsible for helping to grow the outdoor recreation economy in the state. The Virginia Office of Outdoor Recreation is housed within the Commonwealth’s Department of Commerce and Trade and is staffed by agencies currently working to promote Virginia’s outdoor assets and top-ranked business climate.

“The RV industry applauds the funding from the Governor’s budget to support the Office of Outdoor Recreation in Virginia, exemplifying the state’s commitment to prioritizing the growth of outdoor recreation,” said RV Industry Association Vice President of Government Affairs Jay Landers. “In addition to outdoor recreation as a whole, this office supports the nearly 400 RV businesses who create more than 7,000 jobs and pay $340 million in wages here in Virginia.”

RVIA and the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, along with other members of the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR), have called for governors in all 50 states to establish an Office of Outdoor Recreation. This year, Maryland and Arkansas established new offices, bringing the total number of states with an OREC office to eighteen.

“Governor Northam’s announcement of $245 million in funding for outdoor recreation is welcome news for the outdoor industry sector, the state of Virginia, and all Virginians,” said ORR President Jessica (Wahl) Turner. “The outdoor recreation economy pays huge dividends to Virginia’s economy, to the tune of $8 billion each year. With this additional investment in programs for trails, state parks, and the state’s Office of Outdoor Recreation – headed by Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade for Rural Economic Development Cassidy Rasnick – Virginia will be able to promote outdoor recreation, develop partnerships, and create and improve recreation infrastructure. ORR thanks Governor Northam for his commitment to outdoor recreation and our growing industry. We look forward to continuing to work with the state on moving forward.”