More than 100 recreation industry leaders applauded the passage of the Natural Resources Management Act during a reception yesterday for the 116th Congress hosted by the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable. And voicing their approval were representatives from the Motorcycle Industry Council, Specialty Vehicle Institute of America and the Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association.
Seven Congressional representatives addressed the gathering at the Rayburn House Office Building. MIC President and CEO Tim Buche introduced Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio, thanking Stivers for his service in the Ohio Army National Guard and for his commitment to outdoor recreation. Buche noted the great trail riding available to Ohio powersports enthusiasts, and that when a major shipping company left Stivers’s district a few years ago, Polaris Industries, a valued MIC member, picked up much of the space and set up a distribution center.
Reps. Don Beyer, D-Va.; Garret Graves, R-La.; Peter Welch, D-Vt.; Suzanne Bonamici, D-Ore.; Bruce Westerman, R-Ark.; and John Curtis, R-Utah, were also recognized for supporting outdoor recreation, including providing funding for the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account, and securing appropriations for the first federal government study of the outdoor recreation economy at the state level. Last year, the government released national data demonstrating the importance of an outdoor recreation economy that accounts for 2.2 percent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product and directly supports 4.5 million jobs.
The Natural Resources Management Act delivers reforms that will protect public lands and waters and enhance visitor experiences in treasured outdoor places. ORR specifically called out the importance of permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act, the Every Kid Outdoors Act, the Sportsmen’s Access to Federal Land subtitle and the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps Act.
“With last night's passage of the public lands package and the inclusion of appropriations for the continued study of the outdoor recreation economy in the funding bill earlier this month, 2019 is off to a strong start for outdoor recreation,” said Jessica Wahl, executive director of ORR. “We would like to thank our partners in Congress for taking the initiative to promote and protect access to recreation on public lands and waters and ORR members for all the work they did to get us here today. We hope to continue this momentum with the inclusion of other recreation priorities in an infrastructure package or recreation bill in the near future.”