Colorado’s new Office of Outdoor Recreation Industry (OREC) named more than 20 people to its first advisory council Monday. 

Director of OREC, Luis Benitez, took the helm July 1, 2015 and immediately took to the road for a three-month statewide listening tour. He visited a wide range of outdoor recreation-based businesses, nonprofits and influencers across the state, as well as major national industry gatherings. The insights from this effort brought clarity on the state’s outdoor recreation community and industry, and the role of Colorado in the national outdoor recreation industry.

On his return, Benitez appointed over 20 Coloradans to serve on an OREC Advisory Group. The group, which has representation from all facets of the state’s recreation industry and community, will create alignment and roles to support the four points of focus for the office that were developed from the listening tour: Economic Development; Stewardship and Conservation; Industry Anchors and Education.

“Colorado is in a strong position to lead the Outdoor Recreation Industry on many levels, and with the help of the advisory group, the office will not only create the collective voice for the outdoor community and industry in the state, but also craft the collaborative vision for the future of the industry in Colorado,” said Benitez.

Advisory Group 2015
Office for Colorado Recreation Industry

  • Brady Robinson – Executive Director, Access Fund
  • Jenn Dice – VP of Business Network, People for Bikes
  • Auden Schendler – VP Sustainability, Aspen Ski Co.
  • Phil Powers – CEO, The American Alpine Club
  • Lauren Truitt – State Partnership Coordinator, CO Parks and Wildlife
  • Bruce Ward – Executive Director, Choose Outdoors (Forest Service)
  • Jason Bertolacci – Regional Director of CO and WYO, IMBA
  • Don Riggle – Dir. Of Operations; Trails Preservation Alliance
  • Nathan Fey – Dir. Colorado River Stewardship; American Whitewater
  • Lise Aangeenbrug – Executive Director, Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO)
  • Peter Oneil – ED, CO Outward Bound School
  • Cailin O’Brien-Feeney – Rec Advocacy Manager, OIA
  • Kristin Carpenter-Ogden – CEO/Founder, Verde Brand Communications
  • Kenji Haroutunian – Principle, Kenji Consults
  • Annelise Loevlie – CEO, Icelantic Skis
  • Tony Lewis – Executive Director, Donnell-Kay Foundation
  • Kim Miller – CEO, SCARPA North America
  • Bill Gamber – Co Founder, COO, Big Agnes/Honeystinger
  • Irene Vilar – Founder, Americas Latino Eco Festival
  • Scott Braden – Wilderness Advocate, Conservation Colorado
  • Margaret Taylor – Colorado Parks and Wildlife – Dept. of Natural Resources
  • Rick Cables – VP Natural Resources and Conservation; Vail Resorts

The advisory group represents the first of its kind in the country. It brings together individuals with divergent outdoor recreation interests who are committed to aligning for the first time toward the common goal of supporting and growing Colorado’s outdoor recreation industry and bolstering its strong community.

Colorado is known for its amazing natural scenery and access to unprecedented wilderness, open spaces and trail systems. The state’s natural backdrops deliver amazing adventures on mountains, trails, rivers, rocks and cliffs, rivers and lakes for outdoor recreationalists of all walks of life. Outdoor recreation is the foundation of the quality of life for the state, and a key attraction point for companies within the outdoors industries calling Colorado home.

“Rivers, river health, and the river economy is a definite driver in the outdoor industry, so it's key to have someone there from that community,” Benitez said. “And Nathan is such a great ambassador. I couldn’t think of anyone finer to represent the river community.

Together, the businesses comprising Colorado’s outdoor recreation industry are major economic drivers in the state, creating $13.2 billion annually in consumer spending, 125,000 Colorado-based jobs and $994 million in state and local tax revenue. Colorado’s outdoor recreation industry is a growth engine for cities, rural and mountain communities alike.

“One of the key four points of focus is economic development, and the advisory group understands the bridge between economic development and growing a healthy and prosperous community,” Benitez said. “This Office is the state’s acknowledgement of how important the outdoor recreation community is to us as Coloradans.”

On the national level, the State of Colorado holds a prominent position within the outdoor industries comprising snow, cycling, hunting and fishing, action sports and outdoor, respectively. According to the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA), the industry contributes $4.2 billion in wages and salaries in Colorado.