We’re about to measure the recreation economy — already bigger than autos and pharma — in a new way

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A scene from 2012 near Boulder, Colorado.

The U.S. economy could be even stronger if the contributions of snowboarders — and fishermen and trail guides and mountain-bikers and scores more professions that make recreation their business — are factored into the Gross Domestic Product calculus.

That’s the motivation behind the Senate-passed Recreation Economic Contributions Act. The bill, passed in late November, now goes to President Obama, where he’s expected to sign it into law. It requires the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Commerce Department wing that crunches GDP, to officially measure the size of the industry.

“It’s an industry that’s been counted in a fractured way — fishing and hunting here, biking and boating over there,” said Luis Benitez, director of Colorado’s relatively new Outdoor Recreation Industry Office.

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