In Honor of Corporate Activism

The conservation message is strong. But the economy message is stronger. Tonight, Wester Resource Advocates is tipping its hat to OIA for using the business voice to speak for our natural resources. Read more.

September 6, 2017

An article in the Denver Post in June 2016 proclaimed that “after languishing at the political kids’ table, outdoor recreation emerges as key driver of the U.S. economy.” One year later, the Post’s declaration was fully substantiated when the Outdoor Industry Association released the Outdoor Recreation Economy report. The industry’s undeniable financial clout—$887 billion in consumer spending and 7.6 million direct jobs—has brought it a newfound political legitimacy. But with power comes responsibility, and the outdoor recreation businesses that profit off their states’ natural resources and recreation assets are acutely aware of the symbiotic balance.

“Now that our numbers have finally earned us a seat at the table, we’re doubling down on our commitment to advocacy,” says OIA Executive Director Amy Roberts. Since coming aboard in that role, Roberts has put an even finer point on OIA’s policy pencil—sharpening our focus on recreation and public land advocacy. According to Roberts, that’s the essence and value of a trade association. “Individual companies have the power of commerce and direct relationship with the consumer. A trade association can harness the collective voice, intellect and advocacy of those companies and amplify it to achieve goals that might be beyond the reach of a single brand or retailer but are attainable when the industry pulls together.”

Likewise, there are goals that are beyond the reach of a single industry or association. Never has that been more true than now, “as the political climate has dramatically shifted and many of our bedrock environmental protections have come under fire, including safeguards for our public lands,” said Jon Goldin-Dubois, president of Western Resource Advocates (WRA). A regional conservation organization, WRA is focused on protecting the air, land and water in Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and Utah—resources on which the entire outdoor recreation industry, in the West and elsewhere, rely. “The work of protecting our resources requires expertise and collaborative engagement in many areas and across the political and social spectrum,” said Goldin-Dubois.

Tonight, WRA will present Amy Roberts with its Leadership in Conservation award in recognition of OIA’s work in advancing conservation in the West. In previous years, WRA has awarded individuals, including two Western governors, with the honor. “Outdoor Industry Association and its members set a new standard for corporate activism, raising public awareness and inspiring new voices to protect the environment,” said Goldin-Dubois. “While our conservation voices have impact, many elected leaders prioritize business and economy. Having business leaders and associations like OIA speak out for how critical a healthy and protected environment is to business and a thriving economy has more credibility for elected leaders. Combining the expertise of conservation groups with OIA’s leadership creates a more effective force for change. We are partners in this, each bringing our own strengths and resources to the same goal—protecting our natural resources.