2017 Will Be Our Biggest Capitol Summit Ever

We're off to D.C. next week, and a record number of OIA members are joining us. Find out who will be there, what we're asking Congress and what you can do from home to amplify our visit.

By Deborah Williams April 18, 2017

Outdoor Industry Association is as committed as ever to working with our elected officials to promote and protect the outdoor recreation economy and to seize the momentum we gained over the past eight years.

That’s why the timing of the 2017 OIA Capitol Summit—within the Trump administration’s first 100 days—combined with record attendance by engaged members and the concurrent release of our new advocacy center and 2017 Outdoor Recreation Economy Report (both are coming April 25, 2017) will ensure that the outdoor industry’s bipartisan recreation and balanced trade policy agendas remain top of mind for policymakers in Washington and around the country.

What is Capitol Summit and why should your company participate?

Capitol Summit is the outdoor industry’s premiere advocacy event in Washington, D.C., truly one of OIA’s most valuable member benefits. Industry executives from across the country come to educate their elected officials in Congress on key issues impacting their businesses. They have the opportunity to meet with their federal elected officials face to face, hear from key players in the administration and relevant agencies at our keynotes and build valuable relationships with industry peers. Event registration is now closed, but you can still participate. Here’s how.  

Whether you’re attending next week’s events in Washington or will be following along from home, here’s a quick recap of



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    Let’s rewind to early 2016. We were celebrating the recent extension and increased funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and increased funding for the land management agencies. Under the new leadership of Amy Roberts, we were looking to secure permanent reauthorization of the program. We were also excited to celebrate the National Park Centennial through our own Parks4Kids programs and through legislation that would help fund and create policy for the parks’ next 100 years.

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    A month later, the U.S. and 11 other nations signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement that OIA contributed to as a stakeholder representing the interests of the outdoor industry. Other trade policy successes for OIA in 2016 included the Senate’s passage of the Customs Authorization Bill, that, for the first time, created new lines in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) for “recreational performance outerwear” and started the miscellaneous tariff bill (MTB process. As the year went on, the TPP proved to be a challenging trade issue for policymakers, especially during the election year.

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    By early Spring, both the House and Senate had introduced the bipartisan Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact (REC) Act, which directed the federal government to quantify the outdoor recreation economy and bring our industry one step closer to being recognized as a powerful contributor to the U.S. economy. As part of our support of the bill, OIA asked members to sign this letter telling representatives in Washington why the REC Act was the most important piece of legislation in years, maybe ever, for our industry. Not only that, we lobbied hard at the 2016 Capitol Summit to make sure legislators understood its importance.

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    Both houses in Congress also introduced versions of the National Park Service Centennial Act, bipartisan legislation that celebrates the National Park Service’s 100th year of existence, and ensures that it has the resources necessary to protect America’s national parks into its second century. Naturally, OIA was an enthusiastic supporter of the bill and, later that month at the 2016 Capitol Summit, we asked representatives to support it and the REC Act.


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    And when President Obama and his family visited  Yosemite National Park in June, many of the  issues we’ve been working on stepped into a national spotlight and elevated the outdoor industry to national prominence. During that trip, the president recognized the economic contributions of our industry by referring to specific numbers from the OIA Outdoor Recreation Economy report. Obama reminded his colleagues in Washington that outdoor recreation is a bipartisan issue and an enormous economic driver in all corners of the U.S. To top it off, outdoor industry athletes such as Conrad Anker, Sasha DiGuillian and Keven Jorgenson took over the White House Instagram feed to show rock climbing to the world in celebration of President Obama’s trip.

    Then November came, our OIAPAC recorded a 77% victory rate, but we knew the election outcome would substantially affect our work. Here’s how the OIA government affairs team broke it down in their post-election analysis.

    And before 2016 ended, we celebrated two of our industry’s biggest victories to date. The REC Act passed with unanimous bipartisan support and the National Park Service Centennial Act passed on the last legislative day Congress was in session. Following that, OIA brought several brand CEOs to D.C. to strategize about the future of our industry and meet with the White House and members of Congress to discuss what is next for outdoor recreation.

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    Although President Trump’s stance on public lands remains a bit of a mystery, our team was optimistic about his appointment of Ryan Zinke to the Department of the Interior.


    The passage of the Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact (REC) Act and the National Parks Centennial Act in late 2016 underscore what we have been saying for years and what we’ll continue to tell policymakers, especially next week in Washington: Public lands are a bipartisan issue. Public lands are the foundation of the outdoor industry and the outdoor recreation economy. The outdoor industry is an enormous and undervalued economic engine that creates millions of sustainable American jobs, contributes to public health and generates big tax revenues for local, state and federal governments. Supporting public lands and balanced trade policies is good for the economy and good for Americans.

    To kick off the week, we will hold a press conference on Tuesday morning to announce the release of  “The Outdoor Recreation Economy.” The 2017 report includes national economic contribution data and job statistics for the outdoor recreation sector, making our case for investment in our industry. We will present the new report to every member of Congress with whom we meet. Here is a brief overview of our primary “asks,” which we’ll be presenting to Congressional representatives, high-level Congressional staff and members of President Trump’s administration during more than 80 meetings next week on Capitol Hill:


    • Join the Senate Outdoor Recreation Caucus or the House Outdoor Recreation Caucus (new this Congress)
    • Senators: Co-sponsor S. 896, a public lands bill to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF)
    • House Representatives: Sign on to House Concurrent Resolution 27, expressing that America’s Federal public lands are national treasures that belong to all Americans


    • All members: We will discuss the impact of the proposed Border Adjustment Tax (BAT) on our businesses

    In addition to those primary asks, which we’ll be presenting in all of our meetings, we we will also be asking:

    • Senators: Co-sponsor S. 118, RAMPARTS, a Made in America bill supporting U.S. manufacturers
    • Republican House members: Co-sponsor House Concurrent Resolution 27, expressing the sense of Congress that the nation’s federal public lands are national treasures that belong to all Americans and should be maintained for future generations; and co-sponsor House Joint Resolution 195 (Republican Climate Resolution), expressing the commitment of the House of Representatives to conservative environmental stewardship


    More than 130 of us will suit up and hit the Hill next week to impress upon Congress how valuable the outdoor industry is to this country’s economy and quality of life. But that barely scratches the surface of the thousands of outdoorists who make up this industry. Even if you can’t make it to D.C., there is so much you can do to support our message to policymakers next week and into the future.

    1. Follow along with OIA as we hike to Congress next week. We’ll be on Twitter (@OIA) and Instagram (outdoorindustry) and using the hashtag #CapitolSummit. If you see something you like, retweet it or Tweet at us to show your support. Also, Tweet at other OIA members who are attending to thank them for lending their advocacy muscle to the cause. We’ll also be broadcasting throughout the event on Facebook Live, so keep an eye on your feed to catch all our up-to-the-minute broadcasts.

    2. If you haven’t already, subscribe to The Outdoorist, our weekly newsletter that keeps members up to speed on our policy work around the country throughout the year. You can also sign up for our Trade and Recreation alerts, dedicated emails that dig into the finer points of policy as it happens.

    3. Be sure to visit our website next week as we unveil our new advocacy center, a digital hub where you can keep abreast of local and national policy issues that affect your business and through which you can communicate directly with your elected officials. Search for your representatives’ information, read about their positions on issues that matter, learn about and support pending legislation. This is, after all, a participatory democracy.

    4. Download our new Outdoor Recreation Economy Report. We’re kicking of this year’s Capitol Summit with the launch of the new report, which provides updated data about jobs and revenue generated by outdoor recreation. The report is one of our most valuable tools for quantifying our industry’s role in the U.S. economy, and it’s a powerful resource for policymakers. Read it. Bookmark it. Share it with your staff, friends, family and neighbors. Most important, send it to your elected officials early and often to remind them that a vote for the outdoor recreation industry is a vote for a healthy America.