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OIA in D.C. Notes from the Hill: January – February 2023

OIA in D.C. Notes from the Hill: January-February 2023

Just two months into the new Congress, we are already seeing vital work being done on behalf of our industry. The bipartisan, bicameral Outdoors for All Act has been reintroduced and has the potential to expand outdoor recreational opportunities in urban and low-income communities; it would also steer federal investments in green spaces and protect public lands and waterways. OIA looks forward to continuing to work with members of Congress to advance this bill and others to increase access to the outdoors, fight for climate action, and enhance the outdoor recreation economy.

Furthering Administration Protections of U.S. Lands and Waters

At the end of January, the White House announced a series of major actions to advance conservation, combat climate change, honor Tribal Nations, and support local economies. The Biden administration finalized protections for three unique ecosystems: Tongass National Forest, Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, and Bristol Bay salmon fisheries.

Kent Ebersole, interim executive director of OIA, responded that “we are thrilled to see the Biden administration continue to champion the protection of public lands which are integral to the economic success of the $862 billion outdoor industry. Preserving outdoor spaces like the Boundary Waters – which are a cornerstone to local economies and traditions in the region – is a continuing investment in the physical, mental, and economic well-being of all Americans.”

Announcing Shift Advantage As Climate Action Corps Official Partner

OIA and Shift Advantage are pleased to announce that Shift Advantage is now an official partner of the OIA Climate Action Corps, supporting OIA members on their climate journey. With the new Shift Advantage partnership, OIA members can now save up to 15% percent on climate sustainability consulting services.

Together, OIA and Shift Advantage hosted a webinar demonstrating services they provide,  like carbon reduction planning, and sharing how brands can take action to achieve the OIA Climate Action Corps goal for the industry to become climate positive by 2030.

Educating Trade S

how Attendees at Outdoor Retailer Snow Show

The OIA government affairs team traveled to Salt Lake City in January to attend the Outdoor Retailer Snow Show to educate trade show attendees on numerous topics, including the state of the industry following the 2022 elections, PFAS phase out, outdoor industry trade priorities, and equity and inclusion in the outdoors. OIA will continue to be the education sponsor for Outdoor Retailer and is excited to provide more education to  show attendees in June.

Supporting Gateway Communities That Serve National Park Visitors

This month, U.S. Senators Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Angus King (I-Maine) introduced the bipartisan “Gateway Community and Recreation Enhancement Act” to support gateway communities, boost visitation at lesser-known parks and recreation areas, and require a digital version of the America the Beautiful annual pass.

Kent Ebersole praised how “this legislation would lay the groundwork for communities surrounding national parks and public lands to have additional tools at the ready to pursue long-term, sustainable solutions to support and enhance local infrastructure being pushed to the limits by the recent dramatic increase in visitors to many of these areas.”

Updating on State and Local Activity

State legislative sessions across the U.S. are in full swing! Here are updates about state-based work OIA is leading or supporting alongside member and stakeholder partners.

New Mexico: OIA is working in partnership with REI and on-the-ground recreation and conservation organizations to support New Mexico Senate Bill 9. This historic bill – which has bicameral, bipartisan support – would set up the Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund, the state’s first sustained investment in numerous programs increasing conservation, fire mitigation, recreation amenity fund, and the wildly popular New Mexico Outdoor Equity Fund. OIA and REI representatives made a trip to Santa Fe recently to advocate for this legislation’s passage and thank its sponsors.

Nevada: OIA and our partners are closely monitoring the financing of an existing outdoor equity fund, the Outdoor Education and Recreation Grant Program. The program was created but then unfunded in past legislative sessions. OIA is also working with on-the-ground outdoor recreation businesses to strengthen an outdoor business alliance in the state.

Georgia: We are working with a broad coalition of stakeholders across environmental organizations, the local recreation alliance, on-the-ground lobbyists, and other recreation businesses to establish a director of outdoor recreation. Georgia House Bill 314 will create a director of recreation in the state’s Department of Natural Resources.

Minnesota: With the new Democratic trifecta, there is building momentum to establish an outdoor recreation office with a focus on outdoor access and economic development. We are also keeping in touch with and providing guidance to a coalition of local outdoor business leaders who are proactively exploring the establishment of an outdoor business alliance of Minnesota-headquartered industry companies.