Among the yellow cedar trees and the brown bears, one feature still manages to stand out in Alaska’s remarkable outdoors — beautiful bodies of water. Whether it’s fishing in the Yukon River or boating along the Kenai River, Alaska’s shorelines offer something for everyone.
The great outdoors don’t just provide Alaskans with picturesque vistas — it also drives the economy in communities across the Last Frontier and the rest of the country. Nationally, the outdoor recreation industry represents 2.2 percent of annual U.S. GDP and supports thousands of jobs and businesses. Alaskans generate $587 million in economic activity through recreational boating activities alone, supporting nearly 3,000 Alaska jobs and more than 300 businesses.
But, to ensure our natural resources remain abundant and the industry’s vast economic contributions continue for years to come, we must take steps to modernize outdoor recreation infrastructure. This means, among other assets — more boat ramps, expanded broadband access in public parks and waters, and new public-private partnerships — ensure outdoor recreation opportunities are accessible to all Americans.
Fortunately, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski is leading the charge to ensure the outdoor recreation economy continues to prosper. Recently, she chaired a hearing on ways to improve our nation’s outdoor access, permitting and infrastructure. At a time when partisanship pervades almost every issue, Murkowski deserve credit for uniting lawmakers on this bipartisan issue. We look forward to working with her to promote awareness of this quiet, but critical portion of our economy.
• My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire.