Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - According to a new study released by UM Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research, the state’s outdoor economy grew 14 percent from 2021 to 2022.

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis reports that outdoor recreation accounted for 4.3 percent of Montana's gross domestic product, positioning the state third in the country.

KGVO News spoke with Melissa Weddell, Director of the institute for details of the study.

Montana Generates $2.9 Billion of Economic Impact from Outdoor Recreation

“In the US there was $1.1 trillion of outdoor recreation, economic impact and employment of 5 million jobs, so that's pretty impressive,” began Weddell. “When we break that down to Montana, it generates $2.9 billion in economic input and provides support for a little over 29,000 jobs across the state.”

Weddell said her researchers interview visitors to the state in a variety of locations.

“We intercept residents and visitors at gas stations at rest areas and then we also have permission to be in airports and we do counts and so we know from intercepting visitors the most popular recreation activities are actually day hiking, wildlife watching, nature photography, and scenic driving,” she said.

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Favorite Activities Include Day Hiking, Wildlife Watching, and Scenic Driving

It’s a foregone conclusion that outdoor recreation plays a huge part of why people live in and visit Montana.

“We know from our most recent intercept of about 3,500 residents in quarter two of this year,” she said. “In 2023, 20 percent of residents reported they participate in outdoor recreation; 47 percent weekly, and 22 percent monthly. I think that also kind of demonstrates how important outdoor recreation is to our economy but also to our quality of life. 97 percent of residents said they either agreed or strongly agreed that outdoor recreation was very important to their quality of life.”

The Full Report from UM Institute for Tourism and Recreation can be Read Below

Click here to read the full report from the UM Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research.

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