102 cross-sector outdoor recreation businesses urge swift passage of once-in-a-generation legislation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – June 10, 2020 – Over 100 outdoor businesses, from Fortune 500 companies to mom and pop shops, including specialty retailers, apparel, gear and vehicle manufacturers, outfitters and guides, campground and marina operators, and more sent a letter to Senate leadership urging swift passage of the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) in order to stimulate the outdoor recreation industry, made up of thousands of small businesses, and provide safe and sustainable recreation access and infrastructure for generations to come. 

GAOA would provide a critical boost to what was, before the pandemic, a $778 billion a year industry supporting 5.2 million jobs and accounting for 2.2% of United States Gross Domestic Product. According to Outdoor Recreation Roundtable’s most recent member survey and dashboard of the sector, 94 percent of outdoor industry businesses have experienced a decrease in sales and 88 percent have laid off or furloughed a portion of their workforce. As these 102 cross-sector companies identify, investments in conservation and recreation are needed to provide business certainty so the outdoor recreation industry can get back to what it does best — grow jobs, support healthy communities, economies and people, and provide more opportunities for everyone to benefit from time spent outside.  

“Public lands are incredibly important for providing recreational fishing opportunities throughout the country,” said Glenn Hughes, president of the American Sportfishing Association (ASA). “This monumental bill is particularly timely. As the sportfishing industry, along with the country as a whole, continues to recover from the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress can help the long-term recovery of our industry by passing the Great American Outdoors Act.”

“The balance between conserving our public waterways and ensuring robust and responsible access to these cherished natural resources is paramount to the recreational boating community, which is why so many boating industry businesses are standing in support of this historic legislation,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association. “The Great American Outdoors Act will do more to expand outdoor recreation opportunities than any other legislation in recent years and we call on all members of Congress to swiftly pass this commonsense measure.”

“Maintenance backlogs have led to deteriorated trails and facilities, preventing Americans, including our large community of motorized off-road vehicle users, from participating in healthful outdoor activities at a time when we need it most,” said Erik Pritchard, president and CEO of the Motorcycle Industry Council, Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association, and the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America. “The GAOA would ensure that access and infrastructure on public lands and waters are restored so that families and recreationists can enjoy the outdoors safely and close to home. This would also provide a much needed boost to local businesses that support these activities.”

“The passage of the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) means so much more than simply restoring our national parks. For literally millions of small businesses located in gateway communities near these national treasures, including private RV parks and campgrounds, it means increases in Americans recreating and supporting the success of all businesses that make up the outdoor recreation industry,” said Paul Bambei, president and CEO of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC). Because of this, ARVC is proud to stand with the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable in calling on Congress to pass the important bipartisan GAOA.”

“As national parks and forests across the country look to safely reopen, it’s gratifying that Congress is recognizing the need to direct funds toward critical deferred maintenance needs and campground modernization on our public lands and waters,” said Craig Kirby, president of the RV Industry Association. “We are grateful that Congress is addressing these issues through this landmark legislation that supports outdoor recreation and conservation in our most treasured lands for generations to come.”

“Our entire industry is behind this — from skiers to snowmobilers, hunters to hikers, campers to RVers and climbers to motorcyclists,” said Jessica (Wahl) Turner, executive director of the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR). “Businesses have been making calls, running sign-on campaigns and sending letters. This unity shows the amazing work that has been done to get us to where we are on this once-in-a-generation legislation. In the next week, Congress has the opportunity to do something that truly outlasts their time in office and that will benefit the nation for decades to come.”

Read the letter and see the full list of signers.