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Visit Counts, Spending At Northwest's National Forests Are Flat

Tony Webster
File photo. Visitors to national forests in in the Northwest spend nearly $740 million each year.

A report out last month says visitors spent nearly $740 million in communities near U.S. Forest Service lands in Washington and Oregon. The number of visitors and dollars coming into the region hasn’t changed much in nearly two decades.

In the Northwest, playing outside is still a moneymaker. According to the U.S. Forest Service, national forest lands support more than 2,000 year-long jobs in Washington and close to 4,000 in Oregon. Many of those jobs are in rural communities.

These numbers haven’t changed much since 2013, when the Forest Service last looked at similar data. According to the study, stability in visitor spending likely traces to “steadily declining unemployment, increased consumer confidence and very low inflation over the last eight years.”

According to a report last year from the Outdoor Industry Association, outdoor recreation generates more than $3 billion in state and local tax revenue in the Northwest.

Between 2010 and 2015, visitors come to national forests for recreation in Oregon and Washington more than 15 million times each year. In Washington, they spent more than $290 million dollars annually. In Oregon, they spent even more: $448 million.

The most recent study is an update to one published in 2013, that utilized data collected between 2005 and 2009.