Gov. Jack Markell’s weekly message highlights the importance of the state’s recreational and natural resources to Delaware’s economy.
Sitting in for Gov. Markell, DNREC Sec. David Small says the state parks alone attract 6 million visitors annually and one out of three Delawareans participates in some type of outdoor recreation.
“Each year nearly 350,000 people fish, hunt and observe wildlife and 60,000 boats are registered here,” Small said.
He says that translates into about $4 billion of economic impact for the state.
Small adds the abundance of natural spaces in the state also has a positive impact on water quality and keeping storm related floods at bay.
Full text of Gov. Markell’s weekly message:
Attention to our natural resources isn’t just about environmental protection – we must recognize and take advantage of how they contribute to our economy and the quality of life.
Delaware’s beaches, waterways, campgrounds, trails, award-winning state parks and wildlife areas form the backbone of Delaware’s conservation economy. That’s especially evident this time of the year as residents and visitors enjoy Delaware’s great outdoors by kayaking, camping, fishing, bicycling, and playing in the surf and sand.
Our state parks are at the center of our conversation economy, and together they attract more than 6 million visitors annually. Each year nearly 350,000 people fish, hunt and observe wildlife, and 60,000 boats are registered here. Through these and more, two out of every three Delawareans participate in some type of outdoor recreation. That generates about $4 billion in economic impact – creating tens of thousands of jobs, over a billion dollars in wages, and hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenues.
In addition, Delaware’s open spaces provide incredible value as wildlife habitat, help protect water quality and reduce flooding, while making our communities more attractive places to live, work, and raise a family. Finally, studies demonstrate that spending time outdoors enhances cognitive skills and physical health.
So, just like other important infrastructure such as bridges and roads, we must continue to invest in our open spaces and conservation economy. We’re making progress with recent legislation to generate additional funds to support waterways and wildlife habitat. By the end of the year, the Markell Administration will have added more than 50 miles of bike trails and walking paths statewide. And we’re creating one of the best Oceanside camping experiences in the country at Delaware Seashore Park, and opening new visitor centers along Delaware’s Bayshore.
I hope you are finding time this summer to experience our great outdoors and to see first-hand why a commitment to our conservation economy will keep Delaware moving forward.