FILE - NY Minnewaska State Park

Castle Point as seen in Minnewaska State Park Preserve near Kerhonkson, New York.

(The Center Square) – New York’s outdoor recreation industry accumulated about $29.3 billion, or 1.7% of the state’s gross domestic product in 2019, according to statistics that The Bureau of Economic Analysis released in a report last month. The state produces the fourth-largest GDP among all states, following California, Florida and Texas.

New York is the third-highest contributor to outdoor recreation value in the arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, and food services sector, behind Florida and California, which have $19.9 billion and $16.6 billion, respectively. The state provides about $9.1 billion in outdoor recreation value in that sector, according to calculations based on 2012 North American Industry Classification System estimates.

Employment last year in the state’s outdoor recreation industry totaled 291,429 jobs, or 2.3% of the state’s total employment, based on state level data published September 24, 2020, on the Bureau’s website.

The state brought in a record 77.1 million visitors to the New York State Park system’s more than 250 individual parks, historic sites, recreational trails and boat launches that year and visitation has “remained strong” this year through the COVID-19 pandemic, Brian Nearing, deputy public information officer at the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation, said via email.

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Parks 2020 Initiative, a multi-year public-private commitment of $900 million toward modernizing the state park system, included the Shirley Chisholm State Park in Brooklyn, which has attracted more than 500,000 visitors since it opened in July 2019, and upgrades to the golf course at Bethpage State Park that hosted the 2019 PGA Championship, Nearing said. New York invested $2.6 million into Bethpage State Park to host the championship, upgrade the clubhouse, parking lots and walkways, and improve the Black Course, according to a May 2019 news release from the governor’s office.

The state also established a new visitors center at Minnewaska State Park Preserve in October 2020, a new welcome center at Walkway Over the Hudson State Park in June 2019, and a new welcome plaza at Niagara Falls State Park in July 2020.

New York’s government expenditures in the industry amounted to $1.5 billion in 2019, and private industries contribute an outdoor recreation value of $27.3 billion, according to the Bureau’s report.

The state also benefits from money gained through snowmobiling, Nearing said. In 2019, the snow activities category as a whole – which also includes skiing and snowboarding – brought in about $170 million in outdoor recreation value, according to the Bureau report.

“Through the governor’s direction, each snowmobiling season there is a free weekend for out-of-state and Canadian residents to boost out-of-state tourist visitation,” Nearing said. “To support this sport, which a 2011 study found has a seasonal economic impact of $868 million, the state awards annual grants for snowmobile trail maintenance and grooming, with grants in 2020 totaling $4.2 million.”