Haslett, MI - The Outdoor Recreation Roundtable supports the need for a healthy land management agenda in Washington D.C. and across the United States. Congress has a unique opportunity to enact legislation that could help make great strides in protecting our public lands while delivering needed reforms to enhance the outdoor recreation experience.
The Outdoor Recreation economy accounts for 2.2 percent of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP), producing $734 billion in economic output and supporting 4.5 million direct jobs in the United States.
The Roundtable joins ISMA in supporting the following pieces of legislation:
- Restore Our Parks Act – there is substantial deferred maintenance affecting recreation and local communities that rely on recreation visitors. Visitation across the United Stateshas increased and there is more than $1 billion dollars worth of backlog in our National Parks on recreational assets such as trails, campgrounds and marinas. We support a bi-partisan legislative effort (which is also supported by the Administration) which offers a thoughtful solution to this growing issue. We hope to support millions of visitors to our national lands this year and we need to have those recreation assets maintained and in great shape.
- The 21st Century Conservation Service Corp – is a bold national initiative to engage 100,000 young adults and veterans in service on public lands throughout the country. The Conservation Corp organizations are all community organized and leverage private funds to help support the local economy, and development and support of the outdoor recreation economy in their area. Snowmobilers have been doing this for many years in the building and improvement of snowmobile trails throughout our national forests and we know that the clubs and associations throughout the snowbelt will continue to do this while helping young adults and veterans obtain some skills for the growing recreation economy.
- Every Kid Outdoors Act – Public lands are some of the best venues for children to experience the outdoors and participate in outdoor recreation. The legislation being discussed will provide grade school and junior high students free access to many of the public lands. These students can request an annual pass (for themselves and three adults) to allow them visitation to the public lands of their choice. This is a great opportunity to expand visitation to our National Parks, national forests and BLM lands.
- Guides and Outfitters Act – This is bi-partisan legislation that has been passed by the House Natural Resources Committee. It improves the outfitter and guide permitting system of federal land agencies to help Americans enjoy access to the great outdoors. There are many guides and outfitters who introduce our national forest and BLM trails to snowmobilers nationwide and this Act helps facilitate outdoor recreation and their activity.
- RTP Full Funding Act – This bi-partisan legislation has been introduced and would require a study to determine the best available estimate value of off-highway recreational fuel tax paid to the Highway Trust Fund. The Recreational Trails Program is currently funded through the Highway Trust Fund at $85 million dollars annually. This is only a portion of the $270 million dollars annually that the Federal Highway Administration estimates that motorized trail users pay in to the Highway Trust Fund through fuel taxes. RTP is a user pay, user benefit program that benefits all recreationists and is supported and benefits snowmobilers across the United States. It serves as a primary funding mechanism for thousands of motorized trail opportunities.
- Outdoor Recreation and Rural Development – This allows the economic and community development groups in rural America to consider applications for funding that supports the outdoor recreation economy. This will include investments in outdoor recreation businesses, facilities, infrastructures, strategic planning, marketing access, and marketing. Programs may support financial assistance or technical assistance and training. Projects must be carried out in rural America—where we snowmobile—and must meet the applicable eligibility requirements.
To help policy makers make informed decisions, the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable meets with members of Congress and we have asked them to include $1.5 million dollars in funding to take the Outdoor Recreation satellite account (ORSA) to the next level. We hope this next step will include the development and refinement of state data which will capture the scope and impact of the recreation economy in each state in the country.