In most towns and cities in the West, no one needs to explain that recreation is not just an attraction, it's part the fabric of communities and their economies.
At the same time, recreation's political clout is rarely powerful, especially at the state and national levels. That appears to be gradually changing, as a report in the Outdoor Alliance recently pointed out.
In Idaho, it may not be apparent, especially in the statehouse, but if you wade into the wonky paper the Alliance produced, it references Idaho Outdoor Business Council, Idaho Conservation League, and how recreationists have been actively involved in shaping the Boulder/Whiteclouds wilderness proposal.
I've long believed outdoor recreation is an under-appreciated economic driver in Idaho and either a sleeping giant or a neutered one.
The Alliance points out that the appointment of Sally Jewell, former CEO of REI, as the Department of Interior Secretary, was a landmark shift in the clout of recreation at a federal level, and "like a snowball rolling downhill, a clear signal of gathering momentum for outdoor recreation."
Another recent example is recreationists and recreation-oriented businesses are largely leading the charge in the fight against states attempting to take ownership or management of federal lands.
There are many other changes happening, and signs that recreation's clout is gradually growing. Go here to see Alliance's report.