2017 Annual Report: Policy

Together We Are A Force For Policy

2017 was an incredibly tumultuous year, but despite an often unpredictable and shifting political landscape, it was a year of unprecedented action and collaboration for our industry.

Whether we were marching for public lands to the Utah State Capitol in July, moving the Outdoor Retailer trade show to Denver and combining it with the winter Snow Show or using the Outdoor Recreation Economy report to illustrate our economic force, we came together and made our voices heard.

Policy Work by the Numbers


While in D.C., with help from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, we launched the third, and newest, version of the Outdoor Recreation Economy report, establishing that the outdoor recreation industry annually contributes $887 billion to the U.S. economy while supporting 7.6 million good-paying American jobs. To help spread the undeniable impact of our industry, we released this toolkit that members adopted and pushed out in record numbers. With your help, our impressive statistics were picked up by almost every major news market around the country, helping to illustrate the importance of outdoor recreation at local, state and national levels. Yet, as this year went, with every success, came a new challenge. Just hours after we released our Outdoor Recreation Economy report and while we were conducting our meetings on the Hill, President Trump released an announcement of his own to issue an executive order to review more than two dozen national monument designations from the last 25 years. OIA responded with a statement of our own and re-upped our commitment to defending our public lands.

Creating the first-ever House and Senate Outdoor Recreation Caucuses was an important step in solidifying a political voting block on outdoor industry policy issues. In addition, the first ever congressional hearing on the economic power of the outdoor industry was held with several industry leaders, including OIA’s Amy Roberts, testifying on opportunities for Congress to support this growing economic giant.

In April, we hosted our largest ever Capitol Summit in Washington, D.C., bringing 130 industry executives to our nation’s capital. We had more than 100 meetings with members of Congress and senior administration officials, including senior White House advisors to the president.

After the Capitol Summit, the administration launched a review of more than two dozen national monuments which had been designated by past presidents of both political parties under the 111-year-old Antiquities Act, which was first signed into law and used by celebrated conservationist President Theodore Roosevelt. During that review, outdoorists from around the nation—including so many of you—generated nearly three million public comments. Almost all of them called on the president to keep all protections in place.

In 2017, Wyoming, Montana, North Carolina and Oregon established offices of outdoor recreation, ensuring that healthy communities and healthy recreation economies will thrive. Nationally, there are now seven offices of outdoor recreation, two task forces and four states with pending legislation to create an office or task force.

In January, OIA and leaders from the industry wrote this open letter to the incoming administration. Hundreds of industry CEOs signed it,and it ran as a full-page ad in The Washington Post.

Throughout 2017, our government affairs team and you, our members, proved that, indeed, we are a force for public lands. As the battle was waged at the federal level, many policymakers including those in state and local governments, embraced the outdoor recreation economy. Many states invested in policies that would support recreation and promote healthy communities and healthy economies. Below are the major events that shaped public lands in 2017.

Winter (Market) of Our Discontent: The aisles of the Salt Palace were abuzz with talk of protest over Utah’s stance on public lands. Days later, Patagonia and several other brands publicly vowed to boycott Outdoor Retailer unless Utah’s political leadership reversed its position on the newly created Bears Ears National Monument, or unless the trade show was moved out of Salt Lake City. OIA’s government affairs team, under the leadership of Executive Director Amy Roberts, led the industry in voicing our opposition to Utah’s position and launching a campaign to champion the protection of all our nation’s public lands.

Goodbye to U: Unfortunately, our arguments in favor of Utah’s monuments fell on deaf ears, and in February, OIA, along with the OIA Board of Directors and Emerald Expositions, decided to end the two-decade relationship between Outdoor Retailer and Salt Lake City.

We Marched on Utah: In a fitting farewell, we lived up our last visit to Salt Lake City and showed our continued commitment to the state’s public lands by leading a peaceful and powerful march to and rally on the capitol steps. During the final Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in Salt Lake City, nearly 3,000 people marched to the state capitol to show their support for our public lands. Spirits were high, the celebration was great, and the goodbyes were heartfelt. Watch the video. From SLC to Denver: Outdoor Retailer, the largest U.S. tradeshow for the outdoor community, chose Denver for all shows beginning January 2018. Amy Roberts explained what it means for OIA members.

What a Disappointment: Despite overwhelming support to keep the monument as designated and this letter signed by over 300 outdoor industry executives, Secretary Zinke issued an Interim Report to President Trump that recommended the boundaries of Bears Ears National Monument be revised. The recommendation would reduce, and potentially break up, the monument and the protection it provides for the recreational and culturally significant assets.

December 4 Will Live in Infamy: It’s the day President Trump ignored 98 percent of Americans, traveled to Salt Lake City and rolled back protections for more than two million acres of public lands in the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase National Monuments, the largest rollback of such protections in American history and a blow to Utah’s outdoor recreation economy. The response from the industry and outdoorists nationwide was swift and loud, as 5,402 individuals used to write 16,705 letters to 526 members of Congress opposing the president’s decision. It was the largest response on a policy issue in OIA’s history. The movement to advance the recreation economy and protect America’s public lands and waters will carry on in 2018.

You Had Tax Questions; We Had Answers: Not surprisingly, outdoor companies had a lot of questions about how the border adjustment tax would work and the likelihood that it would actually become law. A record number of OIA members tuned in for a webinar we hosted on this issue and, we wrapped up the high points for good measure. We also offered updates on OIA’s official position on the backpack tax.

What a Relief: One of our most significant policy victories of the year came over the summer when President Trump signed an order making certain backpacks, duffel bags and other travel goods eligible for duty-free access to the U.S. market under the Generalized System of Preferences. This change will result in an estimated $90 million in annual savings for manufacturers and retailers. OIA also led the industry’s participation in the miscellaneous tariff bill (MTB) process, a Congressional initiative to suspend import tariffs for qualifying products. OIA secured the inclusion of 10 individual legislative bills in the MTB package, with tens of millions of dollars in savings on the horizon for the following year.

Climate Action: U.S. companies stepped up as the federal government stepped out of the Paris Climate Agreement, and the OIA Government Affairs and Sustainable Business Innovation teams joined forces to launch a CEO Climate Pledge at Mountainfilm in Telluride, Colorado. More than 50 outdoor and ski industry leaders, athletes, local business leaders and local elected officials gathered for a day of education and perspective, followed by an open forum discussion.