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ORR applauds VA’s investment in outdoor recreation economy

Outdoor Recreation Roundtable released the following statement after Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s announcement of $245 million in funding for the state’s Office of Outdoor Recreation and additional outdoor recreation infrastructure. 

“Governor Northam’s announcement of $245 million in funding for outdoor recreation is welcome news for the outdoor industry sector, the state of Virginia and all Virginians,” said Jessica (Wahl) Turner, president of Outdoor Recreation Roundtable. “The outdoor recreation economy pays huge dividends to Virginia’s economy, to the tune of $8 billion each year. With this additional investment in programs for trails, state parks and the state’s Office of Outdoor Recreation – headed by Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade for Rural Economic Development Cassidy Rasnick – Virginia will be able to promote outdoor recreation, develop partnerships, and create and improve recreation infrastructure. ORR thanks Governor Northam for his commitment to outdoor recreation and our growing industry. We look forward to continuing to work with the state on moving forward.”

ORR partners with Oregon State University to bring research and education resources to outdoor recreation industry

Oregon State University’s Center for the Outdoor Recreation Economy (CORE) has joined other leading recreation organizations as the newest member of Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR).

As ORR’s first higher education member, OSU’s CORE will bring the bandwidth and expertise of a top-tier public university to the $788 billion outdoor recreation industry, supporting the sector’s research and workforce development needs through the development of industry-informed and relevant trainings and certifications.

“The growth and resource possibilities with CORE joining the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable are tremendous,” said Jessica Turner, president of Outdoor Recreation Roundtable. “OSU’s CORE will be able to build on its already impressive portfolio of insightful research and education with us to provide training and certification programs needed to move the outdoor industry forward.”

ORR and CORE have already collaborated on several successful efforts. Earlier this year, CORE helped ORR develop the ORR Rural Economic Development Toolkit to support rural communities in building their outdoor recreation economies, and together led information sessions for government agencies and industry leaders about the importance of economic and workforce development for the outdoor recreation economy. CORE has consistently brought survey development expertise to the table with ORR members, supporting numerous studies related to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, project eligibility through the $900 million Land and Water Conservation Fund, and insights into current workforce trends.

“The outdoor recreation industry has incredible potential, both as a driver of economic opportunity and as a means of making outdoor activity more welcoming and accessible,” said Lee Davis, Executive Director for CORE. “Right now, the industry is being held back by a growing skills gap and an ad hoc training structure. By joining ORR and working with industry associations, CORE will serve as an inclusive and rallying force for the outdoor recreation industry, for those seeking career opportunities in it, and for everyone who will benefit from more time outside.”

Oregon State’s work in the outdoor recreation industry through CORE focuses on the following four efforts:

·       Education and Training: Blending academic rigor with industry expertise to develop and offer relevant professional education, certificates, and degree opportunities.

·       Research: Connecting industry with faculty experts and researchers to assess outdoor recreation workforce trends through surveys, interviews, case studies, and other services.

·       Industry Engagement: Engaging with executives, talent experts, and associations to ensure CORE’s workforce offerings meet the industry’s current and future needs.

·       Higher Education Collaboration: Spearheading the creation of a national consortium designed to support and coordinate industry-responsive research and program development at post-secondary institutions nationwide.

The ORR and OSU collaboration will build upon successful efforts in 2021, and next year will focus on the following actions for the outdoor recreation economy:

·       Use its research capacity to conduct a comprehensive analysis of wage and career path data across the recreation economy.

·       Build on the highly successful rural development toolkit platform and continue to expand resources for economies across the country looking to transition to recreation-based economies.

·       Work with the U.S. Economic Development Administration to promote understanding of the comprehensive benefits of outdoor recreation economies’ impactful rollout of the new $750 million in funding for travel, tourism and outdoor recreation to the communities.

Broad outdoor recreation coalition calls on Congress to pass first-ever recreation package

Led by the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR), outdoor recreation businesses and associations are calling on Congress to enact legacy legislation for our great outdoors by passing a first-of-its-kind recreation package. There are dozens of bipartisan, bicameral bills that don’t cost taxpayers money and make common sense updates or reforms in order to help outdoor business continue to create jobs, grow local economies and improve land and water management, helping all people enjoy the outdoors in their communities or on our iconic public lands system across the country.

With the introduction of The Outdoor Recreation Act today, now is the time to gear our recreation policies up for the 21st century as visitation and demand for outdoor recreation is increasing in every corner of the U.S. In addition to The Outdoor Recreation Act, ORR has been pushing for a recreation package to include the Simplifying Outdoor Access for Recreation (SOAR) Act, the Ski Hill Resources for Economic Development (SHRED) Act, the Modernizing Access to Public Land Act (MAPLand Act), and the Recreation Not Red Tape Act (RNR), among other bipartisan and pragmatic outdoor recreation legislation.

“Across the nation, we see outdoor recreation bolstering local communities’ economies, employing millions of Americans and contributing to the physical and mental health of Americans before, during and eventually after the pandemic,” said Jessica (Wahl) Turner, president of Outdoor Recreation Roundtable. “We need these common-sense bills to help get more people get outside, while protecting our natural resources now and for generations to come. These bills, if passed, will ensure the outdoor recreation industry can keep doing what we do best – contribute to healthy people, places, economies, and communities.

Turner continued, “Other industry sectors of similar size have packages all the time, and the outdoor recreation industry needs to be the same. The bills we are asking for in this package don’t cost taxpayers anything – they are simply better tools and streamlined policies for agencies to help get more Americans better access to the outdoors.”

Click here to read ORR’s letter to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

ORR President Jessica Turner to celebrate recreation wins in bipartisan infrastructure deal at White House signing

Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR) President Jessica (Wahl) Turner attended the signing of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act at the White House with President Biden and other leaders from across the country. ORR was formed, in large part, to work towards better recognition of the outdoor recreation economy’s contributions to the U.S. economy, as well as the improvement and expansion of outdoor infrastructure and access for all. Today’s signing is a huge step toward achieving the outdoor recreation industry’s goals and ORR’s presence is a major recognition of the importance of this vital and growing sector. 

For media attending today’s signing, Jessica is available to provide additional comments on the impact of this groundbreaking legislation on the outdoor recreation industry and economy. 

See ORR’s statement on the historic infrastructure package, with $100 million in outdoor recreation infrastructure support included, among other programs vital to the outdoor recreation economy, sending it to President Biden’s desk. 

“We appreciate the hard work by President Biden, members of his administration, the House and the Senate to come to an agreement on a broad and impactful bipartisan infrastructure package that invests in our local communities, our public lands and waters, and our people,” said Jessica Wahl Turner, president of ORR. “This infrastructure package provides an opportunity to not only rebuild our crumbling roads, bridges and airports, but also to improve the infrastructure behind our beloved public lands and waters.” 

Turner continued, “Meaningful investments in transportation, public lands, rural development, and natural infrastructure connect more people to the outdoors and strengthen the outdoor recreation economy. This creates new jobs, helps the U.S. remain globally competitive, and ensures we recover from the impacts the pandemic had on businesses, local communities, our health, and our quality of life. We encourage Congress to advance this historic package to the President’s desk as quickly as possible.” 

The outdoor recreation industry is especially appreciative that the bipartisan infrastructure bill includes: 

$100 million for restoring, preparing, or adapting recreation sites on Federal lands: This is a key provision the outdoor recreation business community worked on and is imperative to ensure the continued growth and success of the industry as well as safe and quality outdoor experiences for all Americans.

Reauthorization of the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund: This important funding supports fishery restoration and conservation efforts, boating access and infrastructure, the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, as well as important fish stocking programs.  

Investments in Natural Infrastructure: As we are increasingly dealing with the impacts of extreme weather across the country due to climate change, such as droughts, hurricanes and wildfires, these vital investments in natural infrastructure solutions, including green infrastructure, coastal restoration, and regenerative agriculture will help strengthen conservation, enhance outdoor recreation experiences, and reduce carbon emissions. The National Culvert Removal, Replacement, and Restoration Grant Program will greatly benefit the recreational fishing economy and its enormous impact on local economies and communities. 

Forest Service’s Legacy Road and Trail Program:  The authorization of $250 million for this important program will help to increase recreation opportunities by investing in maintenance of Forest Service roads and trails near threatened water bodies.

$788 Billion Industry Celebrates Recreation Wins in Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal

WASHINGTON, D.C. – November 6th – Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR) provided the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives passed the infrastructure package, with $100 million in outdoor recreation infrastructure support included, among other programs vital to the outdoor recreation economy, sending it to President Biden’s desk.

“We appreciate the hard work by President Biden, members of his administration, the House and Senate to come to an agreement on a broad and impactful bipartisan infrastructure package that invests in our local communities, our public lands and waters, and our people,” said Jessica Wahl Turner, president of ORR. “This infrastructure package provides an opportunity to not only rebuild our crumbling roads, bridges and airports, but also to improve the infrastructure behind our beloved public lands and waters.”

Turner continued, “Meaningful investments in transportation, public lands, rural development, and natural infrastructure connect more people to the outdoors and strengthen the outdoor recreation economy. This creates new jobs, helps the U.S. remain globally competitive, and ensures we recover from the impacts the pandemic had on businesses, local communities, our health, and our quality of life. We encourage Congress to advance this historic package to the President’s desk as quickly as possible.”

The outdoor recreation industry is especially appreciative that the bipartisan infrastructure bill includes:

$100 million for restoring, preparing, or adapting recreation sites on Federal lands: This is a key provision the outdoor recreation business community worked on and is imperative to ensure the continued growth and success of the industry as well as safe and quality outdoor experiences for all Americans.

Reauthorization of the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund: This important funding supports fishery restoration and conservation efforts, boating access and infrastructure, the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, as well as important fish stocking programs.

Investments in Natural Infrastructure: As we are increasingly dealing with the impacts of extreme weather across the country due to climate change, such as droughts, hurricanes and wildfires, these vital investments in natural infrastructure solutions, including green infrastructure, coastal restoration, and regenerative agriculture will help strengthen conservation, enhance outdoor recreation experiences, and reduce carbon emissions. The National Culvert Removal, Replacement, and Restoration Grant Program will greatly benefit recreational fishing and its enormous impact on local economies and communities.

Forest Service’s Legacy Road and Trail Program:  The authorization of $250 million for this important program will help to increase recreation opportunities by investing in maintenance of Forest Service roads and trails near threatened water bodies.

 

ORR Celebrates Climate & Recreation Investments in Build Back Better Proposal

Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR) provided the following statement after President Biden released an updated Build Back Better plan.

“The Build Back Better plan includes historic investments in fighting climate change that are necessary to grow our nation’s economy, bolster the $788 billion outdoor recreation economy and protect the public lands and waters our industry relies on,” said Jessica Wahl Turner, president of ORR. “Funding climate resilient outdoor infrastructure strengthens communities and provides Americans with more opportunities to get outside and reap all the benefits of spending time in nature.”

Turner continued, “Additionally, the Creation of the Civilian Climate Corps included in the Build Back Better plan will support diverse young people working on needed conservation and recreation projects and serve as a critical pipeline for 21st century jobs in the outdoor recreation economy, all while promoting conservation and making outdoor spaces more climate resilient.”

Other programs that will support the needs of recreation access and infrastructure being impacted by climate change:

●      $1.25B to carry out projects for the protection and resiliency of public lands and resources

●      $750M to carry out ecosystem and habitat restoration projects on public lands and waters

●      $500M for wildfire management

●      $400M for deferred maintenance and housing on NPS

●      $100M for urban parks plus $10m to administer those funds

●      $1.25B for the Forest Legacy Program

●      $6B for restoring habitat and bolstering coastal resistance

●      Almost $2B for salmon habitat restoration, science assessments and hatcheries

●      Funding supporting 300,000 members of Civilian Conservation Corps

Outdoor sector DEI coalition announces membership, advisory & governance councils

Together Outdoors (TO), a coalition supported by the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable and comprised of businesses and organizations in the outdoor recreation industry committed to justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion (JEDI/DEI) in the outdoors, announced their Advisory and Governance Councils today. These established leaders who represent affinity groups, NGOs, public and private-sector organizations, and academic interests will work with TO as it develops actions for organizations, recreation destinations, and outdoor enthusiasts on how they can take meaningful steps to attract, embrace and support inclusion. TO also announced the growing coalition now includes over 70 members from across the recreation spectrum from boating, hiking, RVing, off-roading and much, much more.

TO’s advisory council members have deep experience in advancing JEDI/DEI in the outdoor community. They will provide recommendations to the TO team on programming and initiatives, in addition to helping facilitate educational sessions and workshops for the coalition. Members include:
· Ambreen Tariq, Founder, Brown People Camping

· Briana Blanchard, Strategic Partnerships Manager, Access Fund

· Crystal Egli, Co-Founder, Inclusive Journeys

· Jahmicah Dawes, Owner, Slim Pickins Outfitters

· Dr. Jose Gonzales, Assistant Professor in Recreation and Tourism, Cal State University-Northridge

· Lydia Parker, Founder, Hunters of Color

· Syren Nagakyrie, Founder, Disabled Hikers

· Yvonne Leow, Founder, Bewilder

TO’s governance council includes leaders in business, NGO, and public-sector organizations related to advancing outdoor recreation in the United States. They will assist ORR with providing direction for TO’s mission and values, program design, communications, fundraising, partnerships, and access. Members include:
· Bob Ratcliffe, Chief of Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Programs, National Park Service

· Dan West, Director of Public Policy, Rivian

· Danica Carey, Director of Marketing Operations, Seirus Innovation

· Dr. Jose Gonzales, Assistant Professor in Recreation and Tourism, Cal State University-Northridge

· Jil Littlejohn Bostick, Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Winnebago Industries,

· Kevin Williams, Vice President of Marketing, National Marine Manufacturers Association

· Mary Mitsos, President and CEO, National Forest Foundation

· Michal Rosenoer, Government and Community Relations Manager, Hipcamp

· Mollie Hansen, Chief Marketing Officer, Airstream

· Renee Jones, Senior Director of Marketing, THOR Industries

In the coming months, the coalition is also prioritizing the creation of an interactive JEDI/DEI resource library and a symbol for coalition member organizations, destinations and more to use to show their commitment to JEDI/DEI issues and solutions for creating a more safe, welcoming, and inclusive outdoor experience for everyone.

“It is crucial for the outdoor industry to acknowledge the years of labor by BIPOC and other underrepresented communities who have driven the movement to make the outdoors a more just, equitable, diverse, and inclusive space,” said Gerry Seavo James, Coalition Lead for Together Outdoors. “Empowered by the leadership, passion, and experiences of our newly formed advisory and governance councils, we strive to build upon those efforts within the industry and greater outdoor community.”

“As a BIPOC-led organization, we understand the strength of community and the need for intersectionality,” said Lydia Parker, executive director of Hunters of Color. “We’re excited to join “Together Outdoors” and participate on the coalition’s advisory council with other outdoor leaders so that we can coalesce our strength and knowledge and share power with all historically excluded people.”

“People with disabilities are 25 percent of the population; when you include people with chronic illnesses, that number increases to over 60 percent. Yet disability is often left out of the conversation,” said Syren Nagakyrie, founder, Disabled Hikers. “My goal is to elevate the conversation about disability in the outdoors and expand the concept of what accessibility means. Together Outdoors provides opportunities to educate and build more access and inclusion in the outdoor industry.”

“This coalition is a rare and tremendous effort to address the lack of diversity and inclusion in the outdoors at an industry-wide level,” said Yvonne Leow, founder, Bewilder. “I’m honored to represent the voices of beginner campers and backpackers in California, Bewilder’s home base, as we start putting our ideas into action both on the advisory council and on the coalition. Change isn’t going to happen overnight, but this initiative is a critical step in the right discussion.”

This week TO held the first session of a seven-month educational series for coalition members. The first session’s module was, “How We Got Here: Barriers to entry + history of access to outdoor recreation spaces.” The goal is to equip members with the foundational knowledge to understand and analyze how historic systems of exclusion intersect with current barriers to access, resulting in reduced participation for groups including BIPOC, Disabled, LGBTQ+, different socioeconomic status, immigrants, and others. TO’s other educational sessions include, “Building a Better Team: Recruitment of diverse employees,” “Supporting the Work: Corporate giving + partnerships,” and “Accountability: How to evaluate your progress on DEI measures,” among several others.

Organizations seeking to join TO can navigate to TogetherOutdoors.com and fill out a membership query form. The coalition is focused on helping all interested organizations connect with DEI experts, resources and education.

ORR applauds key outdoor access and streamlining bill (SOAR Act) passage in House Natural Resources Committee

Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR) statement on U.S. House Natural Resources Committee markup of a bill that will greatly improve access for Americans to the outdoors, H.R. 3670, the Simplifying Outdoor Access for Recreation (SOAR) Act.

“This House markup is a critical first step to improving access for the American public and updated tools for federal agencies to manage our shared lands and waters for recreation,” said Jessica Turner, executive director of Outdoor Recreation Roundtable. “The industry knows there is an urgent need to quickly move this bill because it will help ensure the continued growth of this $788 billion sector, offer diverse communities access to outdoor recreation and help to manage overcrowding at some recreation locations. All of this will provide some relief for businesses and communities hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and those struggling with the impacts of climate change.”
Turner continued, “We applaud Congressman Neguse and the entire committee for its swift and unanimous passage of this bill and look forward to a recreation package coming together by the end of the year that would truly be a legacy achievement for the committee and the national outdoor recreation economy.”

ORR has sent a letter signed by nearly 30 members to the committee detailing the importance of this legislation to the outdoor recreation economy, the American public, and rural communities across the country.

ORR Supports New Maryland Office of Outdoor Recreation

“The entire recreation industry applauds Governor Hogan’s creation of an Office of Outdoor Recreation and hiring of J. Daryl Anthony as its first director,” said Jessica Wahl Turner, executive director of Outdoor Recreation Roundtable. “As a Marylander myself, I am in awe of all the state has to offer when it comes to recreation on the land and water and we were incredibly lucky to have Secretary Schulz and Secretary Haddaway-Riccio’s leadership on the Outdoor Recreation Economic Commission that recommended the creation of this office. We know that outdoor recreation drives nearly 90,000 jobs and contributes over $7 billion to the state’s economy while positively boosting public health and our quality of life, particularly during the pandemic. By creating this office, Governor Hogan recognizes outdoor experiences are not a nice-to-have but a must-have and we all stand ready as key partners to protect the places that make Maryland such a great place to live and work.”