A national organization that aims to protect outdoor recreation — from hiking to snowmobiling, fishing to horseback riding and beyond — is in the news twice this week: Once for naming a new leader with deep experience in the field, and also by setting some important priorities for how it lobbies the government on behalf of outdoor recreationalists like us.
The Outdoor Recreational Roundtable is a coalition of more than 20 organizations from representing, among others, the boating, biking, equestrian, fishing, hiking, motorcycle, recreational vehicle, shooting sports and snowmobiling industries. On Wednesday, the organization sent out notice that it had hired Jessica Wahl to be its executive director. That same day, the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association sent out a press release with specific pieces of legislation that the Roundtable is backing on a federal level.
Yes, government policy can be boring, but this stuff really is important and can have a direct impact on our ability to ride.
Both press releases are posted below, starting with the ISMA release, then the ORR announcement about Wahl.
Outdoor Recreation Community supports Lands Package Legislation
HASLETT, MI, December 19, 2018: The Outdoor Recreation Roundtable supports the need for a healthy land management agenda in Washington DC 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% of the US Gross Domestic Product (GDP), producing $734 Billion Dollars in economic output and supporting 4.5 million direct jobs in the United States.
The Roundtable joins ISMA [the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association] 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 States has increased and there is over $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 Jr 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 and 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 and the great outdoors. There are many guides and outfitters that 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 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.
Jessica Wahl Named Executive Director of the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable
Outdoor Industry Executive to Lead America’s Premier Outdoor Recreation Coalition
Washington, D.C. (December 19, 2018) – The Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR) Board of Directors announced the appointment of Jessica Wahl as executive director following an extensive national search. Jessica brings a decade of experience navigating the halls of The White House, Department of the Interior (DOI), Capitol Hill, state recreation offices and outdoor lifestyle businesses.
“Jessica is the ideal person to take on the new role of executive director at the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable,” said Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association and chairman of the board for ORR. “Her demonstrated leadership in raising the profile of the Outdoor Recreation Economy combined with her proven skills in championing meaningful policy changes that positively impact the entire outdoor recreation community make Jess the perfect choice. She is a passionate advocate for outdoor recreation, a tireless convener and results-oriented change agent.”
“I am honored to be chosen as the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable’s executive director,” said Wahl. “I have always had a deep personal connection to the great outdoors and have spent my career working to connect more people to these special places. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work with America’s leading outdoor recreation organizations to grow the outdoor recreation economy that impacts so many livelihoods and communities. By creating a shared national vision for outdoor recreation, we can improve access to our parks, trails, campgrounds and waters, and ensure a better quality of life for all Americans.”
Prior to the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable, Wahl directed Outdoor Industry Association’s (OIA) outdoor recreation portfolio in Washington D.C. where she successfully gained landmark government recognition of outdoor recreation’s contribution to the national Gross Domestic Product. In 2018, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that outdoor recreation makes up 2.2% of the nation’s GDP and is one of America’s leading industry sectors.
Wahl is also the co-founder and past-chair of the Coalition for Outdoor Access working to reform outfitter and guide permitting systems within federal land agencies, an effort designed to help more Americans gain access to the outdoors. Before OIA, Wahl worked at DOI in the Office of the Interior Secretary where she managed First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Outside and Let’s Move! in Indian Country initiatives. She has received a Master of Arts in American Government from Georgetown University.
Wahl joins ORR on January 7th and will succeed Derrick Crandall, the long-time president of American Recreation Coalition (ARC) and current ORR president. Since the April 2018 announced merger between ARC and the Outdoor Recreation Industry Roundtable that formed ORR, Crandall has led the successful integration of the two entities. After a short leadership transition, Crandall will step down from ORR but continue to consult on ORR’s Partners Outdoors and Great Outdoors Month programs as well as continue his distinguished career as the ORR board representative for the National Park Hospitality Association.
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About Outdoor Recreation Roundtable:
The Outdoor Recreation Roundtable is the nation’s premier coalition of outdoor recreation trade associations and related organizations working to promote the policy reforms needed to enhance the outdoor recreation economy. Combined, ORR members produce an annual $734 billion output for the U.S. economy making up 2.2% of America’s GDP. Please visit www.RecreationRoundtable.org for more information on the coalition’s activities and membership.