The Outdoor Recreation Industry Roundtable (ORIR) delivered testimony earlier this month to two key Congressional committees outlining decaying roads, huge amounts of deferred maintenance, dated and worn-out campgrounds and large expanses where lack of broadband access threatens safety and enjoyment.
Committed to strategically work together for the benefit of American outdoor recreation as a whole, the ORIR is a coalition of 14 outdoor industry associations — including the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) and Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) — representing the core of the $646 billion outdoor economy and its estimated 6.1 million direct jobs.
In similar testimony to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which met Feb. 1 on the topic of “Building a 21st Century Infrastructure for America,” and to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which met Feb. 8 on “Modernizing Our Nation’s Infrastructure,” ORIR representatives asked the Congress to “understand the recreation-related features which must be included in accurately defining our nation’s infrastructure needs.”
ORIR noted that its customers make more than one billion annual visits to sites managed by federal agencies including the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and more.
Noting that the sites managed by these agencies cover more than 30% of the nation’s surface, ORIR singled out the agencies’ billions of dollars of deferred maintenance backlogs.
“The infrastructure needs of the nation’s federally-managed lands are a national responsibility and deserve a key role in the Trump Administration/115th Congress Infrastructure Initiative,” ORIR stated in its testimonies.
Specifically, ORIR encouraged Congress to embrace and facilitate the use of private investments, an “infrastructure bank” with lending limited to recreation-related infrastructure projects on public lands, a Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA) that would allow dedication of revenues from specific projects to repayment of loans, and widespread leveraged use of federal funds, similar to the NPS Centennial Challenge as well as an expanded Recreational Trails Program.
“A recreation title infrastructure initiative could achieve dramatic improvements in use of appropriated funds, while bolstering private investment in our public lands and waters,” ORIR testimony stated.
In addition to the RVDA and RVIA, the roundtable includes the following associations: American Horse Council, American Recreation Coalition, American Sportfishing Association, Archery Trade Association, International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association, Motorcycle Industry Council, Outdoor Industry Association, National Marine Manufacturers Association, National Park Hospitality Association, National Shooting Sports Foundation, Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association, Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association, Recreation Vehicle Industry Association, and Specialty Vehicle Institute of America.
The ORIR represents thousands of U.S. outdoor recreation businesses that produce equipment, gear, vehicles and apparel for the 142 million Americans who enjoy the nation’s parks, waterways, and byways. Spanning recreation vehicles, off-road vehicles, boating, fishing, hunting, camping, archery, shooting sports, powersports, outdoor equipment, and apparel, the ORIR is dedicated to growing diverse outdoor participation, expanding recreational access for Americans, promoting conservation, improving infrastructure, and bolstering sustainable domestic jobs.