Last Thursday, the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable’s (ORR) government relations committee, along with the RV Industry Association, met with key House and Senate Committee staff to advocate for the swift passage of a public lands and waterways recreation package during the lame duck session—the time between election day and when the new Members of Congress are sworn in on January 3, 2019.
The proposed Lands Package would combine a number of existing bills covering various outdoor recreation priorities into a single comprehensive legislative package to address critical infrastructure needs as well as reduce red tape around sensible land management projects, modernizing fisheries management and expanding access to America’s public lands and waterways. Feedback from the meetings was generally positive and ORR is encouraged that a deal could be reached in the coming months.
The key to the package is tackling the deferred maintenance backlog on federal lands, including modernizing and expanding much needed RV camping opportunities. Inadequate federal campgrounds and deteriorating or closed roads, bridges and facilities negatively impact visitor experiences, particularly the experiences of RVers.
National Park visitation generated $36 billion for the U.S. economy in 2017 and supported 306,000 jobs, yet current funding sources for the National Park Service have been insufficient to address the $11.6 billion maintenance backlog plaguing our national park sites. The provisions included in the Lands Package would help correct this by addressing significant portions of the maintenance backlog.
Included in the proposed Lands Package are the Restore Our Parks Act/Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act (S.3172/H.R.6510) and the Recreation Not Red Tape Act (S.1633/H.R.3400), two bills the RV industry has heavily lobbied on and supported during Advocacy Day and through the RV Action Center. These bills are critical to increasing access on public lands and the expansion and modernization of campgrounds.
In addition to the Lands Package, ORR’s government affairs team is pushing for full funding for the Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account and a reauthorized Farm Bill to include important outdoor recreation provisions including language focused on investing in outdoor recreation in rural America.