This week, Congress focused heavily on the outdoor industry by holding hearings on recreation in both chambers. The House Committee on Small Business held a hearing titled “Force of Nature: The Power of Small Businesses in America’s Recreational Infrastructure,” while the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee heard testimony on outdoor recreation bills that will provide vital support for outdoor recreation infrastructure and ensure Americans have greater access to their public lands and waters. The Senate also passed a spending bill that includes a new study on federal investment in outdoor recreation. Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR) members testified in both hearings and were at the forefront of the advancement of this important legislation.

ORR and our members want to thank Chairwoman Nydia Velázquez (NY-07) and Ranking Member Steve Chabot (OH-01) for holding a hearing on the impact of the outdoor recreation economy and the particular power of small businesses in this growing industry. It is extremely encouraging that the hearing was well attended by House Republican and Democratic members and bodes well for Congress’ future focus on the outdoor recreation economy and the small businesses that contribute so heavily to it.

ORR also appreciates the work of Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) to pass an amendment that will launch a study on where federal spending on recreation is taking place, and at what levels. The information that will result from this important amendment will help guide future investments into outdoor recreation. It is critical that policy makers have a holistic understanding of how the federal government’s dollars are currently being used to support outdoor recreation and to shed light on places where federal investment is not meeting the needs of the outdoor industry and American people. This amendment is a vital first step towards creating a clear vision at the federal level for funding initiatives that support and grow the outdoor economy.

Additionally, the House passed several conservation bills and Senators remain interested in packaging key recreation legislation into a first-ever bipartisan Recreation Package.

We want this outdoor recreation momentum to continue. ORR will continue to keep the spotlight on the outdoor industry’s unique challenges and the amazing opportunities that would come from a robust package that reinvests in our public lands and waters, outdoor industry small businesses and rural communities.

Read ORR’s letter of thanks to the Small Business Committee here, and letter of support for the Senate bills here.