Phil Ingrassia

Phil Ingrassia

Editor’s Note: The following column by Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) President Phil Ingrassia, outlining the primary goals for the newly formed Outdoor Recreational Industry Roundtable, appears in the January issue of RV Executive Today.

The Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) is part of the recently formed Outdoor Recreational Industry Roundtable, which has released several white papers to the Trump transition team and congressional leaders outlining the need for expanded access to public lands and waters.

The roundtable also includes the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), the American Recreation Coalition (ARC), and other groups that are pushing for policies to help millions of Americans enjoy the great outdoors each year.

Access is important

A big goal of the roundtable is to get federal land management officials to acknowledge that many types of land- and water-based recreation need to be included in agency management plans that dictate what activities can take place on public lands.

Some of the key asks in the access white paper include:

  • Commit agencies to granting access for diverse recreation activities on all federally-managed public lands and waters.
  • Require any agency that manages public lands and/or waters to publish a detailed economic assessment and justification before any access restriction or prohibition is implemented.

Infrastructure investment

The roundtable’s infrastructure paper notes that “insufficient investment in infrastructure projects has reduced access to facilities and outdoor experiences, damaged natural resources, increased safety risks to recreationists, and added to long-term maintenance costs.”

Some of the key asks in the infrastructure white paper include:

  • Fully fund the Federal Lands Transportation Program and the Federal Lands Access Program to pay for the completion of all surface transportation projects in and leading to federal public lands and waters before the end of the president’s first term.
  • Remove barriers to and encourage the expansion of public-private partnerships for public lands and waters infrastructure.
  • Enact legislation to create an endowment for public lands and waters infrastructure, and encourage private investments in infrastructure projects in these areas.
  • Reauthorize the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA) to ensure fees collected on public lands and waters are used for recreation enhancements in those areas.

It’s time for political and government leaders to recognize that outdoor recreation is an economic powerhouse in the United States. Combined, the outdoor recreation industry generates $646 billion annually in economic activity and provides an estimated 6.1 million direct jobs. 

The RV business is a big part of that economic engine, and we all have a unique opportunity to help make business even better starting this month as a new administration and Congress begin their work.