Recreation Leaders Applaud Senate Efforts To Fix The Maintenance Backlog And Fund Conservation On Public Lands And Waters

Mar 5, 2020

Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR) members, including the RV Industry Association, praise the Senate for introducing a bipartisan bill, Great American Outdoors Act, that prioritizes the $12 billion maintenance backlog facing our national parks and finally fully funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Inclusion of the Restore Our Parks Act (ROPA) would help to improve key outdoor recreation related facilities like docks, restrooms, campgrounds, trails, roads and more in our national parks – many of which have needed updating or repairs for years. This maintenance work is of vital importance to rural communities and economies.

LWCF funds can be a lifeline for communities in need of recreation access to local, state and national parks, wildlife habitats, working forests and more. This important program has only been funded at the full authorized amount of $900 million twice in history. This bill would achieve the decades-long goal of fully and permanently funding LWCF into the future while allowing for more recreation access projects on local, state and federal lands that will support a thriving outdoor recreation economy for years to come.

Infrastructure – especially solving the agencies’ deferred maintenance needs and expanding access for all forms of outdoor recreation – is the main issues that brought ORR together and unites our dozens of sectors. ORR members have worked tirelessly over the years with leaders in Washington and other outdoor recreation partners to get both of these key recreation bills to this point and will not stop until they are signed into law.

“Today is a huge step for outdoor recreationists, the industry and the $778 billion outdoor recreation economy,” said Executive Director of Outdoor Recreation Roundtable Jessica Wahl. “We have supported these issues for a long time and are thrilled to see movement on them as they will help to further fuel the outdoor recreation economy across the country. We appreciate the sponsors’ dedication to these bills and will continue to work with them with the hope to gain additional support for infrastructure needs at other agencies, such as BLM, USFS, and FWS.”

“The Restore Our Parks Act offers innovative solutions and sustainable funding that will address the deferred-maintenance backlog on federal lands, which is critical to improving and expanding national campgrounds,” said RV Industry Association President Craig Kirby. “Campgrounds on federal lands are currently showing distressing signs of wear: crumbling roads and bridges; deferred maintenance needs; and limited camping availability, jeopardizing not only the RV industry but the entire outdoor recreation industry. We are encouraged by the support of this legislation and ask Congress to pass this bill without delay.”

“Nearly 13 million American families and households use the nation’s trails to ride horses and will benefit from robust trail maintenance programs. The horse industry supports passage of the Restore Our Parks Act (S. 500) and Land and Water Conservation Fund Permanent Funding Act (S. 1081) to enrich the outdoor experience for the country’s recreational riders," said President of the American Horse Council Julie Broadway. "The American Horse Council (AHC) applauds the leadership of Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) for introducing a bipartisan package that combines these two important measures that will improve access to America’s trails.”

"America's public lands are at the root of the multibillion-dollar outdoor economy. It is critical that our country invest in addressing backlogged maintenance at our national parks, as well as our other federal lands, in order to ensure these shared spaces are accessible for Americans and visitors to enjoy," said President and CEO of The Corps Network Mary Ellen Sprenkel. "The Land and Water Conservation Fund is a critical funding stream and passing the Restore Our Parks Act would be a significant step towards ensuring our national parks get the attention they need. In addition, however, we encourage the Senate to consider means to address deferred maintenance at such agencies as the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The young adults enrolled in America's Service and Conservation Corps stand ready to assist resource managers in restoring our public lands." 

“Some of the most beautiful and ecologically diverse areas are found underwater in National Parks such as Biscayne National Park in Florida and the Channel Islands National Park in California”, said President & CEO at The Diving Equipment & Marketing Association Tom Ingram. “Divers observe firsthand this amazing diversity, and want to preserve these submerged resources, including historic shipwrecks and war monuments. The recreational diving community and the Diving Equipment and Marketing Association (DEMA) fully support the passage of S. 500, the Restore Our Parks Act. We urgently ask for your support in passing this important legislation which will ensure access to these incredible submerged resources for generations to come, while supporting local economies and building healthy communities.”

“The Land Water Conservation Fund and the Restore our Parks Act are essential to increasing access to the public lands and resources our industry depends on,” said MRAA President Matt Gruhn. “The over $30 billion backlog in federal conservation projects, and upwards of $11 billion backlog in maintenance and repair projects in our National Parks, significantly affect rural economies, and recreational boaters’ and anglers’ ability to take part in the activities they enjoy. We thank Senators Gardner and Manchin for supporting our industry and ask Congress to fully fund these important programs.”

“With such a large, bipartisan group of elected officials coming together in support of legislation that makes a significant investment in our public lands and waters, it is abundantly clear that the outdoor recreation industry, led by boating and fishing, has earned our seat at the decision making table and we’re here to stay,” said Senior Vice President of Government and Legal Affairs at the National Marine Manufacturers Association Nicole Vasilaros. “Without raising a dime in new taxes, this bill will repair, restore, and protect our cherished recreation resources for generations to come. There are no good reasons for Congress to delay its passage one more day.” 

“Concessioners have helped park visitors enjoy great experiences for more than a century. We believe the nation should demonstrate a new and enduring commitment to connecting all Americans with their parks and other Great Outdoors places – a commitment that includes elimination of a chronic maintenance shortfall and of inadequate places and infrastructure to host the visits of our growing population," said Chair of the National Park Hospitality Association Scott Socha. "We applaud today’s action by Senate champions and the Administration on the Restore Our Parks Act and the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act. 2020 is an appropriate year for visionary action – great clarity for steps that will make park visits safer, more enjoyable and providing economic sustainability to gateway communities across the nation.”

“Today marks a milestone achievement for the Outdoor Industry Association and outdoor enthusiasts across the country,” said Executive Director of Outdoor Industry Association Lise Aangeenbrug.Our shared public lands and waters are the foundation of the huge and growing outdoor recreation economy, and we are thrilled to see our elected officials coming together in a bi-partisan way to deliver on full funding for LWCF and to commit sustainable funding to address the maintenance backlogs in our national parks. Both of these efforts will go a long way in continuing to grow the outdoor economy and assisting our continued effort to get more Americans into the outdoors.”    

To learn more about the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable, click here.