By Mickaela Giese
The Outdoor Recreation Roundtable welcomed the U.S. Department of the Interior’s announcement of the members of the newly-established Outdoor Recreation Advisory Committee. The Committee is charged with finding solutions that will improve and conserve America’s public parks, lands and waters through strategic public-private partnerships.
The Committee’s membership includes individuals from multiple industry sectors, giving the Interior Department unique perspectives on improving public lands. ORR member organizations—several of which are represented on the Committee, along with ORR President Derrick Crandall—are committed to providing the Committee their ideas and experience to help achieve the best outcomes for the nation’s tens of millions of outdoor recreation enthusiasts. The formation of the Committee came after the Department heard calls from a wide sampling of outdoor recreation groups and advocates seeking a more formal voice on issues affecting the future of outdoor recreation in the United States.
“With over 144 million American outdoor recreation enthusiasts and a $673 billion annual economic output, the outdoor recreation industry has an important voice in the policy discussions about the future of America’s public lands and waters,” said Thom Dammrich, ORR chair and president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association. “We want our leaders to advance policies that will improve the experience of Americans as they enjoy the great outdoors and conserve public resources for future generations. Today is an important step towards meeting those goals, and we appreciate the Interior Department for formalizing this Committee. And ORR wants to reassure all recreation interests that whether they are directly represented on the Committee or not, ORR will work tirelessly to give all recreation interests access to and a strong voice with the Committee and the Administration.”
In early 2018, the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis —the government agency responsible for reporting U.S. GDP—included the outdoor recreation industry in its calculations for the first time. The BEA found that the outdoor recreation industry makes up 2 percent of U.S. GDP, surpassing other sectors such as agriculture, petroleum and coal, and computer and electronic products. Today’s news is the latest sign that America’s leaders are recognizing the major footprint of the nation’s outdoor recreation economy.
“Our industry is dependent on healthy public lands and waters that are responsibly maintained and upgraded,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, ORR vice chair and president of the RV Industry Association. “Visitors to public parks and other lands and waters too often experience worn-out facilities that are long overdue for upgrades, and they are demanding action from our federal leaders. We look forward to working with the Committee members and Interior Department to find solutions that meet the needs of America’s outdoor recreation community and to educate them on the many industries that rely on America’s outdoor recreation economy.”
Once active, the Outdoor Recreation Advisory Committee will be a key source for the Interior Department to learn about the benefits of improving public lands and waters through public-private partnerships. ORR members widely support these partnerships as a smart, efficient way to help ease the maintenance backlog on America’s public lands. The Committee will make recommendations for actions to the Secretary and the Department. ORR members see the Committee appointments as an important first step, but believe that significant changes to Interior programs and policies will be the ultimate measure of the Committee’s importance.
The Outdoor Recreation Roundtable is the nation’s premier coalition of outdoor recreation trade associations. It is committed to advancing the basic elements needed to grow this vital economic sector, including: sound and sustainable management of U.S. public lands and waters, and updating infrastructure and technology on those lands to create quality experiences in response to changing recreation preferences.
On April 12, ORR will be formally unveiling a brand-new website showcasing the importance of the outdoor recreation industry to the American economy and the need for commonsense policy solutions to improve America’s public lands. Be sure to bookmark www.RecreationRoundtable.org and visit us on April 12 for this exciting launch.