Last week, the Senate passed a spending bill which includes a new study on federal investment in outdoor recreation. Thanks to the work of Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Michael Bennet (D-CO), an Outdoor Recreation Roundtable backed amendment was added to the bill which will task the federal government to study where federal spending on recreation is taking place, and at what levels. The information that will result from this important amendment will help guide future investments into outdoor recreation.
The spending bill passed the Senate last Thursday in an 84-9 vote and addresses four of the twelve appropriations bills needed to fund the government for fiscal year 2020.
This amendment is a vital first step towards creating a clear vision at the federal level for funding initiatives that support and grow the outdoor recreation economy. It is critical that policy makers have a holistic understanding of how the federal government’s dollars are currently being used to support outdoor recreation and to shed light on places where federal investment is not meeting the needs of the outdoor industry and American people.
Outdoor recreation is a major economic force in America, accounting for 2.2 percent of the economy, supporting 5.2 million jobs - many of them in rural areas - and contributing $778 billion in economic output, surpassing other sectors such as agriculture, utilities, mining, and chemical products manufacturing. At a time when this industry continues to grow and contribute more in tax dollars and user fees, it’s troubling that federal funding has historically declined or remained stagnant. This new study will help Congress understand the need to appropriately fund the vital agencies and programs this booming industry relies on for continued growth.
Outdoor recreation garnered additional support in the House of Representatives which passed several bills out of Committee that could be combined into a first-ever bipartisan Recreation Package. There also remains interest in the Senate for such a package which would likely include the Recreation Not Red Tape Act and other key recreation bills.
Last June, members of the RV industry advocated for the passage of the Recreation Not Red Tape Act during RVs Move America Week, as this legislation will help to extend the RV camping season and improve access to public lands by removing barriers that limit outdoor recreation. It will also hold federal land agencies accountable for making outdoor recreation a priority for the first time and increase volunteerism to address the campground maintenance backlog on America’s public lands.