DCNR highlights importance of outdoor recreation industry at organic climbing in Centre County PHOTO

Philipsburg, PA -- Recently, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn visited Organic Climbing in Philipsburg, Centre County, to highlight the role the outdoor recreation industry has on Pennsylvania’s workforce and economy.

“Outdoor recreation is an enormous industry in Pennsylvania, in many ways because our wealth of public lands and waters and love for the outdoors has created a great environment for outdoor recreation businesses,” Dunn said. “In the commonwealth, outdoor recreation generates $29.1 billion annually in consumer spending and sustains a quarter of a million direct Pennsylvania jobs.” 

Organic Climbing produces bouldering crash pads, backpacks, clothes, and tote bags for rock climbers.

“Since locating in Pennsylvania in 2010, we’ve been able to grow our business from eight to 21 employees and draw on a well-trained workforce from the textile trades,” said Organic Climbing owner and CEO Josh Helke. “We also appreciate the ability to be so close to an abundance of great natural places and opportunities to enjoy the outdoors.”

Dunn noted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, people have been turning to the outdoors in record numbers for their mental and physical health:

  • May Pennsylvania state park attendance increased 1.5 million, up 40 percent over last year.
  • Reports from trail systems around the state indicate increases in usage of from 40 to 200 percent.
  • Market research shows bike sales up more than 120 percent in the past several months, and kayak sales up 85 percent.

The Pennsylvania Environmental Council recently published research that showed trail usage on 67 of the commonwealth’s trail systems was up significantly in March and April.

“The trail managers across the state that we work with are very excited to see the increased numbers, especially the diverse nature of the first time users,” said PEC Program Director for Trails and Outdoor Recreation Frank Maguire. “We really look forward to converting all those new smiling faces into stewards of our public lands.”

"Demand for outdoor sports equipment, especially bikes and kayaks, has been surging,” said Chuck Kurtz, partner in Freeze Thaw Cycles and Tussey Mountain Outfitters, where bicycle and boat sales are up significantly over previous years. “We’re working hard to keep up with demand for both sales and service.”

As a reminder, when you are outdoors you should continue to take steps to protect yourself and others during the COVID-19 pandemic, including:

  • Be courteous and wear a mask when you encounter others.
  • Avoid crowded areas.
  • Stay 6 feet away from others not in your household.
  • Use hand sanitizer.
  • Stay home if you are sick.

This story was compiled by an NCPA staff reporter from submitted news. To see a list of our editorial staff please visit our staff directory.