• Recreational Boating Industry Meets with Paul Jahnige, Director of Massachusetts Office of Outdoor Recreation
By Chad Tokowicz, MRAA Government Relations Manager
Last week members of the recreational boating industry met to welcome Paul Jahnige as the inaugural Director of Massachusetts’s Office of Outdoor Recreation (OREC), making the Bay State the 18th state in the nation to stand up an OREC. To highlight the importance of this office with the recreational boating industry and small boating businesses throughout the state, representatives from the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR), Massachusetts Marine Trades Association (MMTA) and the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas (MRAA) attended the meeting.
Paul joins as Director after a long career with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, where he served as the Director for the Greenways and Trails program. He has 25 years of experience in environmental restoration and community development and a Master’s in Environmental Studies from Yale. With his past experiences and a keen understanding of the Massachusetts outdoor recreational landscape, Paul is an excellent choice to lead the office.
Given the popularity and impact recreational boating has throughout the state, it was beneficial for MRAA and other stakeholders to meet with Jahnige, who was named director Sept. 12. We underscored our need to work together and shared the recreational boating industry’s current priorities, including mandatory boater education and workforce development. These priorities resonated with Paul, who believed OREC and our industry could find synergy on a variety of overlapping priorities and projects.
Established in December 2022 by the Department of Energy and Environmental Affairs, the office helps elevate and enhance outdoor recreational opportunities in Massachusetts. The OREC creation follows more than six years of administrative and legislative advocacy on its behalf and marks a major investment in the state’s outdoor recreation economy and the many small businesses that support these pastimes.
To support and enhance Massachusetts outdoor recreation, OREC will:
- Coordinate outdoor recreation policy.
- Identify funding opportunities for programs and infrastructure.
- Enhance public access and recreation infrastructure.
- Support the outdoor recreation economy.
- Advance equity and access to outdoor recreation opportunities.
- Promote Massachusetts as a great place to work, live and enjoy outdoor recreation.
Outdoor recreation at large in Massachusetts plays a significant role in the overall economy, adding $9.5 billion to the state’s GDP and directly supporting more than 93,000 jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account. However, with more than 3,000 lakes and ponds, 1,500 miles of coastline and 129,699 registered vessels, recreational boating alone contributes $5 billion to the Bay State’s economy while supporting 17,500 jobs at more than 1,000 businesses.
As additional states establish ORECs, the MRAA will support these efforts and build relationships to ensure recreational boating remains a priority within the greater outdoor recreation landscape and conversation.
If you have any questions about your state’s office or the efforts to create one, please email me at email@example.com.