2020 Federal Legislative Priorities - Part 2: Campground Modernization Issues

Jan 22, 2020

Last week, we began our coverage of the 2020 federal affairs priorities with a look at tax and trade issues. This week we turn our attention to the federal priorities relating to campground modernization and expansion, infrastructure and outdoor recreation.

If there is one bedrock issue that is driving the RV industry’s interest in outdoor recreation it is campground modernization and expansion. The RV Industry Association’s government affairs team has been at the forefront of addressing the need for improved campgrounds across the country through our work with policymakers in Congress as well as with key staff at the Departments of Interior, Agriculture, and Commerce. The team also leads campground modernization and expansion initiatives within the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable, ensuring this issue remains a focus of the influential group of outdoor recreation industries.

As a result of the 2019 efforts by the RV industry and our partners, the National Park Service is currently undertaking the largest campground modernization and rehabilitation project in decades. We’re also seeing key advancements within the U.S. Forest Service and at state parks. The foundation of many of these new programs were established last year. This year, the federal affairs team will continue to work closely with all stakeholders to develop, launch and promote these new programs, as well as continue to look for new and innovative ways to address campground modernization and expansion on public lands and within the private sector.

There is widespread consensus across the political spectrum that Congress desperately needs to address our crumbling roads and bridges in rural gateway communities, on federal lands, and on the highways and byways RVers rely on for safe and enjoyable experiences. The desire to address infrastructure is present in both the legislative and executive branches of the government - including the desire to address outdoor recreation infrastructure needs, thanks to the work of the RV industry.

Currently, a bipartisan highway bill, America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act (ATIA--S. 2302), has passed the appropriate Senate committee and is awaiting a full Senate vote. The federal affairs team is also working closely with the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and expects a House version of the bill to be introduced very soon.

The ATIA would provide $287 billion over five years to update traditional transportation infrastructure, like roads and bridges. Included in the bill is a significant increase in funding for federal land agencies, including a 21 percent increase totaling $2.165 billion over 5 years to repair and update roads, bridges, parking lots, and transportation systems within the parks and nearby gateway communities.

Additionally, the highway bill includes $250 million to perform critical maintenance and urgent repairs and improvements on National Forest System’s roads, trails, and bridges to primarily improve public safety and recreational access. ATIA includes $250 million in dedicated funding and $1.5 billion from the General Fund for a program which funds the construction and rehabilitation of nationally significant projects on federal and tribal lands. This marks the first time this program has received dedicated funding. 

Improving transportation assets in rural gateway communities and within the National Park System - paved roads, parking lots, tunnels and bridges - presents an extraordinary bipartisan opportunity to boost the enjoyment and educational benefits of America’s vast public lands while also supporting and expanding rural American jobs and our economy. The federal team looks forward to continuing to work with Congress and the Administration on opportunities to improve our nation’s infrastructure for all RVers to enjoy.

The industry saw a number of legislative successes for outdoor recreation in 2019, including an unprecedented number of recreation hearings on Capitol Hill and the passage of the first public lands package in over a decade. As a direct result of  the work of the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable, and the RV Industry Association, Members of Congress have a renewed interest in outdoor recreation and its impact on the economy, which is evident in the several bipartisan recreation-focused bills introduced in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

This year provides a unique opportunity to package those outdoor recreation-focused bills into a first-ever “Recreation Package.” This group of bills will help revitalize rural communities, as well as improve access and address infrastructure needs on America’s public lands and waters. The federal affairs team, in conjunction with the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable, will continue working with Congress to develop and pass this first-ever “Recreation Package.”

For more information on these issues, please contact Chris Bornemann at cbornemann@rvia.org.