With more than 146 million Americans across the nation—nearly half of the U.S. population—participating each year in activities such as hiking, fishing, skiing, rafting, and biking, outdoor recreation supports a significant portion of the U.S. economy. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the outdoor recreation economy accounted for 2.2 percent—$412 billion—of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) in 2016, putting the sector’s economic contributions on par with those of the food services, broadcasting, and telecoms industries. In fact, outdoor recreation contributes more to the U.S. GDP than the oil, gas, and mining industries combined. The Outdoor Industry Association estimates that the outdoor recreation economy employs 7.6 million people in jobs ranging from guides and instructors to outfitters and hoteliers. While a crucial power player in the national economy, outdoor recreation also holds an important opportunity for states, cities, and towns to embrace policies that protect their lands and waters—the linchpins driving this economy.The above excerpt was originally published in Center for American Progress.