Passing the Great American Outdoors Act was a huge accomplishment for the outdoor recreation industry and the thousands of businesses, large and small, that makeup the $778 billion recreation economy. Now that this huge achievement of fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund and allocating real funding for federal land management agencies’ deferred maintenance on infrastructure at our parks, campgrounds, forests, lakes and rivers is signed into law, the real work for our sector is just beginning. ORR is working strategically with the agencies to get the biggest Return on Investment (“ROI”) for their deferred maintenance projects, update entire recreation sites and experiences, and utilize Land and Water Conservation Funding for rural economic development and increased equitable access to parks and green spaces.
“ORR has already begun to partner on implementation, strategy and transparency while representing the diverse array of outdoor business community needs in the GAOA roll-out,” said Jessica Turner, executive director of Outdoor Recreation Roundtable. “We are working with agencies like the United States Forest Service (USFS) and the National Park Service to understand their processes for prioritization and classification of Deferred Maintenance projects. ORR is advocating for GAOA funding to focus on the recreation backlog to ensure improvement to existing access and improved recreational experiences. ORR’s analysis indicates that the USFS has the unique opportunity to address the entire recreation backlog with remaining funding for other non-recreation projects.”
“At the same time, ORR is engaging the recreation business community to coordinate with state and federal agencies on LWCF projects that will spur rural development and create equity in outdoor access in communities across the county. It is an all hands effort, but worth every second in order to get the recreation projects we’ve worked so hard to fund moving forward to support local people, communities, businesses and economies.”
Specifically, ORR has the developed the following for GAOA implementation:
A set of deferred maintenance strategy recommendations aimed at planning, contracting and oversight, and highlighting returns on investment for the United States Forest Service to best identify key recreation targets and opportunities as well as successfully solve for the entire recreation maintenance backlog.
An LWCF overview on how prioritization of recreation projects with the now $900 million annual funding can create access in areas far from recreation opportunities and balanced economic development for rural communities.
ORR will continue to provide updates on the remaining work to implement the Great American Outdoors Act in order to help ensure outdoor recreation is accessible for generations of Americans while stimulating the outdoor recreation industry and the U.S. economy now.