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Interior Dept.’s Outdoor Recreation Advisory Committee holds inaugural meeting

The Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR) welcomed key outcomes from on July 8 inaugural meeting of the Interior Department’s “Made in America” Outdoor Recreation Advisory Committee. The committee discussed approaches that would allow more Americans to enjoy the nation’s great outdoors, and committee leaders were elected.

Among solutions addressed were the need for strategic public-private partnerships — a top ORR priority that will expand outdoor recreation access by improving everything from transportation to wi-fi access, campgrounds, lodging, boat ramps and restrooms, and better use of technology. These upgrades will significantly improve experiences for millions of visitors to America’s public lands and waterways in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

“Yesterday’s first meeting of the ‘Made in America’ Outdoor Recreation Advisory Committee marks a key moment for outdoor recreation in the United States,” said Derrick Crandall, president of ORR and a member of the advisory committee. “With the diversity and experience of the committee’s members, the Department of the Interior will gain important new insights on ways to enhance access to America’s great outdoors and attract the investments needed to modernize infrastructure and overcome the maintenance backlog of our public lands and waterways.”

The committee, formally established by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in March 2018, was tasked to provide the Interior with solutions that will give Americans more access to public lands and waters and improve visitor experience. The first meeting of the advisory committee comes just months after the federal government formally recognized the economic impact of the outdoor recreation industry. In early 2018, the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis included the outdoor recreation industry in its U.S. GDP calculations for the first time. The findings showed 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.

“The Outdoor Recreation Advisory Committee will play a significant role in helping drive commonsense solutions that grow the outdoor recreation economy by expanding access to more Americans,” said Thom Dammrich, chairman of ORR and president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association. “We appreciate Secretary Zinke and leaders at the Interior Department for bringing more voices to the table and seeking direct input from our community on steps that will improve recreation in the United States. ORR and its members look forward to sharing our ideas and experience as the committee advises the Department going forward.”

In addition to discussions on specific solutions for expanding outdoor recreation access, yesterday’s meeting of the Advisory Committee included sessions led by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Senior National Advisor to the Secretary Rick May, National Park Service Deputy directors Dan Smith and Lena McDowall and other departmental leaders. The secretary reported to the group on efforts to eliminate the department’s multi-billion dollar backlog in deferred maintenance and on plans to reorganize the department. The committee as a whole established four subcommittees, with a focus on technology; partnerships; public access and infrastructure; and departmental reorganization.

The committee elected Amanda Covington, senior vice president of Vista Outdoor, Inc., as its chair and Bill Yeargin, CEO of Correct Craft, Inc., as its vice chair. The committee plans to hold its next meeting in November 2018. The committee also received public comments identifying additional organizations interested in supporting its efforts. Further information is available through its website: https://www.nps.gov/orgs/1892/made-in-america-rac.htm

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