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Lake of the Ozarks

A group of friends, mostly from Ballwin, and their family members enjoy a boat ride at low speeds at the Lake of the Ozarks on Friday, July 3, 2015. There was a no-wake rule in effect due to high water levels in the lake. Photo by Cristina M. Fletes, cfletes@post-dispatch.com

Missouri is no Maine or Montana when it comes to outdoor recreation, but open-air activities are more important to the economy than in most neighboring states.

New figures from the U.S. Commerce Department show that 2.2 percent of Missouri's gross domestic product comes from outdoor activities, which is identical to the national average.

Among neighboring states, only Arkansas, at 2.3 percent, had a more important outdoor economy.

Hawaii, at 5.4 percent, has the nation's most outdoors-intensive economy. Montana was second at 5.1 percent, followed by Maine at 4.8 percent.

Outdoor recreation in Missouri is a $6.8 billion industry that employs 91,090 people, the government figures show. In Illinois, 165,400 people work in a $14.7 billion industry, but that's just 1.8 percent of the state's economy.

Festivals, sporting events and concerts were the biggest segment of Missouri's outdoor recreation industry, followed by boating and fishing.

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