Congressional and administration officials joined recreation industry leaders last week to mark the formal launch of the nation’s premier coalition of outdoor recreation trade associations, the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR). The event provided a platform for the group to officially outline its priorities as it works to educate decision makers on Capitol Hill about the importance of the outdoor recreation economy.
The Capitol Hill reception brought together a bipartisan group of lawmakers and staff – including seven members of Congress – committed to enhancing America’s great outdoors and increasing public accessibility through common-sense policy solutions.
With attendance on public lands and waters dwindling and facilities aging, ORR aims to ensure an attractive and enjoyable experience for visitors. From Wi-Fi availability to refurbished marinas, infrastructure upgrades must be a priority. Due to the maintenance back-log and budget shortfall facing our National Park System, private partnerships and funding can make these much-needed upgrades a reality, according to the ORR.
ORR’s priorities range from revamping the permitting process so access to lands and water runs more efficiently, reducing permitting periods from what can often take years, to ensuring land and water management decisions fully balance conservation and access so outdoor enthusiasts aren’t wrongfully restricted from experiencing public spaces.
The launch also included the unveiling of a new website, which will serve as a resource to learn more about the industry’s economic impact, the coalition’s membership and the latest outdoor recreation news from across the country.
Earlier in the day, outdoor recreation leaders met with Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke to discuss the role of the department’s new Outdoor Recreation Advisory Committee, which will serve as a collaborative panel to facilitate public-private partnerships that improve public lands and waters. Discussions with the secretary also included ways that the Interior Department, which manages more than 25 percent of the American landscape, can elevate outdoor recreation as a federal priority.
“It is a landmark day for the outdoor recreation industry in the U.S.,” said Thom Dammrich, ORR chair and president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association. “From boating and fishing to camping and hiking, we are united in working toward a shared goal of making outdoor recreation a national priority. Our public lands and waters are vital to our daily lives as Americans as well as to our larger economy. As outdoor enthusiasts and organizations that represent millions of workers across the country, together, we can ensure outdoor recreation remains a treasured pastime and economic driver.”
“America’s outdoor recreation industry is finally being recognized by national leaders for its importance to the health of the U.S. economy, and the ORR is going to play a major role in advocating for policies that ensure we can continue being a driving economic force,” said ORR Vice Chair Frank Hugelmeyer, president of the RV Industry Association.
ORR’s policy agenda includes several key pillars that will improve the outdoor recreation economy and enhance America’s public lands and waters for generations. The agenda includes:
- Fostering collaboration between the outdoor recreation industry and federal policy makers;
- Removing barriers that prevent improvement and maintenance of public lands through public-private partnerships;
- Prioritizing accessibility of public lands;
- Advancing balanced policies that conserve public lands and waterways; and
- Ensuring that the outdoor recreation economy is recognized by policymakers for its importance to the health of the overall economy.