RV Industry Association's Legislative Analyst Ashley Brinkman recently presented at the Minnesota Outdoor Recreation Task Force on the RV industry’s efforts to establish Offices of Outdoor Recreation (OREC) in states across the country and the multitude of benefits to having them in each state, primarily on four key areas.
Last week, we detailed the first benefit: information sharing, collaboration, facilitation, and relationship building. This week, we continue our four-part series with a complete explanation of actively promoting accessibility to the outdoors.
ACTIVELY PROMOTING ACCESSIBILITY TO THE OUTDOORS
Getting folks outdoors that were not raised in the outdoor recreation lifestyle takes active, not passive, work. This conversation has been ongoing for years in different capacities, but the consensus is that we need to be doing more. Helping people of all backgrounds and abilities feel more included and welcome in the community, teaching them all the ways they can really enjoy being outdoors, and providing newcomers with opportunities through financial support and investments in their communities are ways the outdoor industry can begin to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in outdoor recreation.
OREC directors are leading the charge in increasing, improving, and modernizing grant programs, as well as leading conversations and new DEI initiatives to make progress in this important area. One great example of this is the New Mexico Office of Outdoor Recreation’s first-of-its-kind Outdoor Equity Fund. The fund will support transformative outdoor experience that foster stewardship and respect for New Mexico’s lands, waters, and cultural heritage.
Rep. Angelica Rubio, a Democrat from Las Cruces who co-wrote the portion of the bill that created the Outdoor Equity Grant Program, said, “We felt that in order for us to do it right, we needed to do it in a way that it was inclusive for people of color and low-income kids. So, it’s not just about tourism. It’s also about creating a new generation of stewards here in the state.”
As collaboration continues to increase due to the work of OREC offices both in a specific state and across the country, accessibility to the outdoors will also increase.