<< All News Thursday, May 9, 2024 - 02:30 pm

BISMARCK, N.D. – Gov. Doug Burgum, alongside state agency officials and partner organizations, today announced the establishment of the North Dakota Office of Outdoor Recreation to grow North Dakota’s outdoor recreation economy by strengthening partnerships with the private sector and increasing collaboration among all stakeholders to seize the incredible natural and economic opportunities our great state has to offer.


Recognizing the growing importance of outdoor recreation, North Dakota joins 21 other states in establishing a dedicated Office of Outdoor Recreation. The new office, created by executive order, is being launched using existing resources and personnel.


“This new office will allow us to better coordinate with stakeholders and state agencies as they develop plans, strategies and initiatives to maximize the impact of outdoor recreation in North Dakota,” Burgum said. “We are incredibly excited to connect even more deeply with our partners in the private sector who drive economic development and job creation in our state. From the sales and service of boats, RVs and ATVs, to hunting and fishing gear, bicycles and skis, outdoor recreation is a cornerstone of our state’s economic well-being.”


The Office of Outdoor Recreation was announced during a press conference at Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park, a fitting location where the Missouri River, historical and cultural tourist attractions, a wildlife management area and an extensive trail system converge to create a haven for outdoor recreation and exploration.


Among the speakers were representatives from the North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department – which will serve as the administrative home for the office – the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, North Dakota Department of Commerce, Garrison Convention and Visitors Bureau, Woodland Resort, Action Motor Sports, and Save the Maah Daah Hey.


Today’s announcement comes at a time when outdoor activities are contributing over $1 trillion annually to the U.S. economy. According to the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable, North Dakota sees a $1.3 billion economic boost annually from outdoor recreation, and the Office of Outdoor Recreation is poised to further develop this sector within the state.


“I know I speak for my partners at Game and Fish and Commerce when I say we are thrilled at the opportunity to strategically connect with all outdoor recreation stakeholders in the private sector and state, federal and local governments,” said Cody Schulz, director of North Dakota Parks and Recreation. “The physical and mental health impacts of outdoor recreation are well known, and this office will help to drive the economic health of the state as well. This is about going from really good to great.”


By uniting stakeholders, the Office of Outdoor Recreation will promote economic growth, workforce recruitment and retention, enhance quality of life and preserve the state's unique outdoor heritage. The combined efforts will unlock doors for critical investment, propelling further growth and innovation within the state’s outdoor recreation industry.


Our members across the $1.1 trillion outdoor recreation economy are celebrating Governor Burgum’s leadership today in establishing the 22nd Office of Outdoor Recreation across the United States," said Jessica Wahl Turner, President of the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable. "This office will be a catalyst for supporting North Dakota’s $1.3 billion outdoor recreation economy that creates nearly 14,000 jobs for North Dakotans. Outdoor recreation builds thriving economies, helps attract new workers and businesses, generates benefits for physical and mental health, and connects people to treasured natural places. North Dakota’s outdoor recreation businesses, organizations, and communities of all sizes will benefit greatly from the Governor's deep commitment to the outdoors and we can’t wait to support their future work.”


North Dakota continues to experience historically low unemployment, and in a post-pandemic workforce environment, in many cases workers can first choose where they wish to live and then decide where they want to work, Burgum noted. This trend makes outdoor recreation opportunities even more important as a workforce recruitment and retention tool.


The increase in public demand coincides with historic investments in outdoor recreation. In addition to significant investments in state and local park infrastructure, the 2023 North Dakota Legislature approved $25 million for Destination Development matching grants. Thirteen projects were funded, with all but one involving outdoor recreation.


As part of the Office of Outdoor Recreation launch, North Dakota Parks and Recreation announced three significant initiatives:


  • $1.2 million was awarded to four applicants across the state for construction and rehabilitation of trails through the Recreation Trails Program Grant. 

  • The Roughrider Trail, a multi-use motorized trail south of Mandan, will be expanded from 16 miles to 20 miles and will connect Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park to wildlife management areas, a gun range, three boat ramps, two historic sites and two Morton County parks.

  • The newly launched OuterSpatial mobile app directs users to special events and points of interest within North Dakota’s state parks and over 2,200 miles of statewide trails. The app is free to download for iOS and Android. It offers hiking challenges, an interactive social platform and insight into outdoor recreation opportunities in North Dakota.
<< All News