Leaders from the Motorcycle Industry Council, the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council and more than 30 other outdoor industries representing the Outdoor Recreation Industry Roundtable (ORIR) met Tuesday with Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and several members of Congress to discuss ways to improve and expand access to public lands as part of “Made in America Week.” At the meeting, Zinke announced the creation of a recreation advisory committee to grow public-private partnerships, which would help give visitors a five-star experience as they enjoy the great outdoors.
Tim Buche, president of the Motorcycle Industry Council, said the MIC, along with the Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association and the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America, supports motorcycle, ATV and ROV recreation through the Right Rider Access Fund, and by funding the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC). NOHVCC provides on-the-ground trail expertise and a volunteer network to support environmentally friendly off-highway vehicle projects on public lands.
“We are pleased that many of our members make their products in America,” Buche said, “and I am most pleased that nearly 50 million Americans enjoyed our products last year. All of those experiences are Made in America.”
“One could say that we offer the vehicles, and the public lands offer some of the very best riding venues. Public-private partnerships have worked, but there is much opportunity for success ahead of us,” said Buche.
During the hour-long meeting, the recreation leaders provided nearly 30 offers of private investment on public lands totaling more than $80 million, calling them just the first wave of thousands of opportunities that will emerge over the next few months. Duane Taylor, executive director of NOHVCC, outlined several projects to improve OHV opportunities on BLM lands where a nominal investment from the MIC and other groups would have a broad, positive impact on visitors’ experiences, including trailhead improvements, maps, signage and parking improvements, as well as attention to other areas that would boost safety and enjoyment.
“With MIC’s commitment to putting in a bit of seed money to help, NOHVCC will work with the powersports industry to offer the expertise to provide for managed, sustainable OHV recreation on BLM lands,” said Taylor.
Noting outdated infrastructure in American parks, Zinke said the Department of the Interior will host a recreation advisory committee dedicated to looking at public-private partnerships, with the goal of expanding access to and improving the infrastructure on public lands. “We already have thousands of private partners who operate on federal lands. Whether it’s the iconic Jammers in Glacier National Park … or the kayaks that you can rent on the Potomac River, American workers are at the heart of helping American families experience our great outdoors,” Zinke said. “We need to encourage families and folks of all interest levels to enjoy our parks and other outdoor areas, making our land accessible to them. We have wonderful partners who proudly make their outdoor products in America. We can leverage these partners to help address the maintenance backlog on things like boat ramps, RV hookups, campgrounds and cafeterias as long as the government is a willing collaborator.”
The outdoor recreation industry generates $887 billion in direct spending and supports 7.6 million jobs across the United States, industry analysis shows, making it vital to the health of America’s economy and its people.
Also in attendance were three members of Congress from Indiana: Sen. Todd Young and Reps. Jackie Walorski and Jim Banks. Other government officials included Doug Domenech, senior advisor to the secretary of the Interior; the acting assistant secretary of fish and wildlife and parks; the acting directors of the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and the acting deputy director of the Bureau of Land Management.
Following the meeting, Zinke led the group outside to a showcase of American-made outdoor recreation products as part of “Made in America Week.” There are more than 100,000 manufacturing jobs provided by the recreation industry – producing off-highway vehicles, boats, RVs, outdoor equipment and more.