Industry leaders Matt Miller, president of Newmar Corp., TAXA Outdoors President and CEO Antonio Gonzalez and Jim Rogers, past chairman and CEO of Kampground of America Inc. (KOA) were among the appointments to the Department of Interior’s “Made in America” Outdoor Recreation Advisory Committee.
According to a press release, the formation of the committee came after the department heard calls from the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR) seeking a more formal voice on issues affecting the future of outdoor recreation in the United States. The selection of three members from the RV and campground industry to the 15-member committee “shows the strength and influence of the RV industry,” the release stated.
The committee’s role will be to advise the department on ways to expand and improve infrastructure on and around federally managed public lands, implementing sustainable business operations, improving visitor experiences and creating better tools and more opportunities for Americans to enjoy the great outdoors.
Just last month, the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) — the government agency responsible for reporting U.S. GDP — included the outdoor recreation industry in its calculations for the first time. The BEA found that the outdoor recreation industry makes up 2% of U.S. GDP, surpassing other sectors such as agriculture, petroleum and coal, and computer and electronic products. Motorized vehicles was the largest activity within conventional outdoor recreation in 2016, accounting for $59.4 billion of gross output with RVs accounting for more than half of this value at $30 billion.
“Our industry is dependent on healthy public lands and waters that are responsibly maintained,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, president of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). “Visitors to public parks and campgrounds too often experience worn-out facilities that are long overdue for upgrades, and they are demanding action from our federal leaders. We are encouraged that today’s news will help facilitate solutions resulting in greater campground modernization and expansion.”
Also appointed to the committee were two of the largest concessionaires managing RV campgrounds on federal lands, Bruce Fears, president of Aramark Leisure and Jeremey Jacobs, co-CEO of Delaware North. By bringing together this group of experts and stakeholders, the RV industry is confident that a comprehensive solution to campground modernization and expansion on federal lands can be reached.
“We are pleased to see the department recognize the economic and cultural impact of outdoor recreation, including motorized and non-motorized activities on public lands,” said RV Dealers Association (RVDA) President Phil Ingrassia. “The expertise offered by members of the advisory committee will help the DOI meet the demands of outdoor recreation enthusiasts now and in the future.”
In addition to representatives from the RV industry, the committee’s membership includes representatives from many of the industries represented by the ORR, giving the Department of the Interior unique perspectives from different facets of the outdoor economy on improving public lands. The RV industry will continue to work alongside its ORR partners to provide the committee with their ideas and experiences to help achieve the best outcomes for the nation’s tens of millions of outdoor recreation enthusiasts, according to the release.