Partners Outdoors, an event that was hosted earlier this month by the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable, is a forum where representatives from the public, business, and non-profit sectors of the outdoor recreation industry gather to discuss ongoing outdoor recreation trends and the future of the industry. During the two-day event, speakers commended the outdoor industry’s successes and addressed the challenges that the industry faces moving forward.

The outdoor recreation industry has made significant achievements and enjoyed great legislative support. On a federal level, the Bureau of Land Management was granted a $1.6 billion budget for the 2022 fiscal year to encourage the use of natural resources outdoors, improve recreational opportunities for Americans, and establish a stewardship legacy that also generates revenue. President Biden’s American Jobs Plan also includes sections that focus on the, aiming to protect and restore forests, wetlands, watersheds, coastal regions, and other outdoor areas.

Among the different sectors of the industry itself, the RV industry is experiencing a record number of shipments, supports nearly 600,000 jobs, and expects 64 million Americans to go RVing this year. Other outdoor industries are profiting as well: the marine and boating sector continues to see success: posting 17.4 billion in sales and an overall contribution of $10.5 billion to the economy. The motorsports industry has also been recording impressive growth, supporting 867,000 American jobs and, by 2025, is expected to generate $8.55 billion globally. As a whole, the outdoor recreation industry creates $887 in spending annually, 7.6 million American jobs, and $65.3 billion in federal tax revenue.

Overall, the accomplishments of the outdoor industry have led to increased opportunities for employment, significant contribution to the economy, a greater connection to natural resources, and an emphasis on preserving the great outdoors. Of course, although the outdoor recreation industry has enjoyed immense success, there is always room for improvement. Leaders across the industry are working to ensure that the great outdoors can be enjoyed and appreciated by all members of the public, focusing on both this generation and the next.

In part, there is an emphasis on increasing equitable access to outdoor spaces, particularly among marginalized communities. Programs such as the New Mexico Outdoor Equity Fund, a grant program that supports outdoor access among communities in New Mexico, are working to make sure underrepresented communities have the same opportunities to experience the outdoors.

Elsewhere, other efforts are being made to improve campground infrastructure and modernize visitor experiences. In fact, this initiative has been a priority of the RV Industry Association’s Government Affairs team. The importance of upgrading outdoor facilities was emphasized by the Great American Outdoors Act, which provides $1.9 billion a year for five years to fund the maintenance and improvement of national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, recreation areas, and other outdoor infrastructure.

Members of the outdoor recreation community are working to prevent the damaging effects of climate change. The threat of climate change is also a driving force behind the America the Beautiful Act, which seeks to preserve 30% of the United States’ lands and waterways by 2030. It is also a factor in the American Jobs Plan, which encourages an investment in protection from wildfires, coastal resilience amidst rising sea levels and hurricanes, improved agricultural resource management, more climate-smart technologies and, of course, the protection of natural resources.

Although these goals are ambitious, individuals from across different sectors of the outdoor recreation industry are coming together to tackle them collectively. The hope is that these challenges will be resolved with the same amount of success that the industry is currently experiencing, and that the great outdoors will be protected and made more accessible for those who wish to explore it. To learn more about the discussions that took place during Partners Outdoors, check out their home page to view the event recordings.

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