The Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR) summer board meeting capped off two days of meetings in Washington, D.C., focused on growing the impact of outdoor recreation at the national level. According to a news release, ORR board members attended meetings with leadership and key staff from the National Park Service (NPS), U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR).
For the first time, ORR leadership met with several agencies at DOL to discuss workforce development needs in the outdoor recreation industry. Over the next year, the organization will be working to roll out strategies that recruit and train the next generation of outdoor recreation employees through partnerships with conservation service corps and local workforce investment programs.
These efforts will help develop new career pathways in our industry, the release stated while also continuing to educate the current workforce through existing technical programs, as well as through new programs like the Outdoor Economy Initiative at Oregon State University. This will ensure the industry is ready to meet the needs and opportunities of the evolving technologies and consumer preferences in outdoor recreation. Additionally, ORR looksforward to working with key partners on rebranding what a career in outdoor recreation looks like so all Americans can see themselves in an outdoor recreation career.
In a two-hour roundtable with USDA Rural Development, EPA and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), ORR discussed strategies that will drive rural communities and expand public-private partnerships that can help local businesses connect with technical assistance the agencies provide in those communities. The future of outdoor recreation also discussed with USFS Chief Vicki Christiansen and reiterated our commitment to ensuring the impact of wildfires on outdoor recreation and gateway communities continues to be known. A meeting with NPS offered an opportunity for ORR members to share ways they are increasing access to outdoor recreation on federal lands and waters and the attention we are paying to the sustainability of recreation on these resources. Members also emphasized our dedication to fixing the maintenance backlog so that the thriving outdoor recreation economy continues to grow to its full potential and address the need for revitalization in our nation’s rural and gateway communities.
Lastly, the group met with USTR staff to discuss the negative impact tariffs are having on the entire recreation economy, and the fear that they will price consumers out of the places they love and the gear, equipment, vehicles and more they need to have safe and fulfilling experiences.
During its board meeting, ORR’s incoming Executive Committee was elected by the board of directors, including Mary Ellen Sprenkel, The Corps Network president and CEO, and Matt Kormann, Archery Trade Association president and CEO to the ORR Executive Committee. The new leadership will begin their two-year terms on Oct. 1.