CARSON CITY, Nev. - Nevada soon could become the 13th state to establish a state Division of Outdoor Recreation, the subject of a public hearing Thursday in the state Assembly's Government Affairs Committee. The office would promote tourism, but also advocate for protection of Nevada's public lands.
Mauricia Baca, executive director of the group Get Outdoors Nevada, said it makes sense to support an industry that is growing by leaps and bounds, and improves the economy, both in urban and rural areas.
"The outdoor recreation industry generates $12.6 billion annually for the state of Nevada - 87,000 jobs is what we're looking at - and those are really significant numbers," she said. "We're talking about $4 billion in wages and salaries, and $1.1 billion in state and local tax revenue."
Assembly Bill 486 would direct the state to establish an Office of Outdoor Recreation, with the goal of hiring three or four people and launching sometime this summer. Baca estimated that it would cost about $500,000 to begin operations and fund a study to lay out the short- and long-term projects to be addressed.
Dean DeGidio, manager of the REI store in Reno and a member of the Nevada Outdoor Business Coalition, said the bill has four important goals.
"It would promote the growth of a sustainable outdoor recreation economy in Nevada, support stewardship and conservation," he said. "The other thing, it would advocate on behalf of the state for federal funding, such as the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and it would promote the engagement of diverse communities in outdoor recreation."
The hearing is open to the public and begins at 8:30 a.m. Thursday in the Legislative Building in Carson City. It also can be viewed by video conference in a hearing room at the Grant Sawyer State Office Building in Las Vegas.