Washington Region

Rec-Use Study


On May 1st, 2014, Surfrider launched an ocean recreational use survey of the Washington Coast. The “Rec Use Study” collected data on numerous non-consumptive uses by the public including beach-going, kayaking, surfing, wildlife viewing, and camping. This survey was developed in collaboration with Point 97, and asked recreational users to map coastal and ocean areas they have visited in the past 12 months. It documented the locations on the beaches and in the waters of the Washington coast, what type of recreation and how much was spent getting there, eating, renting equipment, and other trip-related expenditures. This type of study began in our very own community of surfers and was originally called surfonomics. These studies are being used all around the country to help communities, small businesses, and local governments and visitors bureaus quantify the value of tourism and recreation to coastal economies.

Clean Water Classic 2014 photo credit: Mathew Marino

Clean Water Classic 2014 photo credit: Mathew Marino

The study, funded by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources and private foundations, is part of a larger coastal planning effort called Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) that will inform policy, decision making, and management of our ocean resources. The study is one of several other projects supported by the state under MSP, many of which have already gathered data on physical oceanography, marine life, shipping, fishing, ecological resources, and economics.

Map product with results from all recreational activities from the Opt-In portion of the study.

Map product with results from all recreational activities from the Opt-In portion of the study.

Washington Coastal Recreation Report Released May 14th, 2015

As expected, coastal recreation provides significant economic and social benefits to coastal communities and the state—these include direct expenditures, as well as social benefits such as citizen enjoyment. In 2014, Washington residents took an estimated 4.1 million trips to the coast, with nearly 60 percent indicating their primary purpose was recreation. That recreation included a variety of activities including beach going (67%), sightseeing (62%), photography (36%) hiking and biking (33%), surfing/kayaking/boating (7%) and wildlife viewing (40%). When at the coast, the average respondent spent $117.14 per trip, translating to an estimated $481 million dollars in total direct expenditures for coastal communities and the state, through hotel visits, shopping, dining and other trip-related expenditures.

For more information on the study, or to schedule a presentation on the results, please contact Gus Gates, Washington Policy Manager.

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Thank you to all who have participated, supported, and promoted the Recreational-Use Survey! Your efforts have helped produce robust feedback that will go a long ways in establishing recreation as a credible voice and viable resource on the Washington coast. Surfrider Washington is involved in the on-going process of implementing the Marine Spatial Plan for the Washington coast by representing coastal recreation on the Washington Coastal Marine Advisory Council (WCMAC).  For more information on MSP or to get involved in the process, contact Gus Gates, Washington Policy Manager and Coastal Recreation Representative on WCMAC. 

Coastal Backpack cleanup pic