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OIA in D.C. Notes From The Hill: August & September 2022

By Rich Harper, Director of Government Affairs

The past few months have seen tremendous investment and interest in the outdoors in Washington, D.C., and around the country, with the signing of the historic Inflation Reduction Act and a new study showing outdoor participation growing at record levels. But we cannot stop there. Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) is committed to seeing the America’s Outdoor Recreation Act enacted into law, which will expand access to America’s outdoors and support small outdoor business and communities for generations to come.

Announcing Interim Executive Director Kent Ebersole

In August, OIA’s Board of Directors named Kent Ebersole as interim executive director, as the organization continues its search for a permanent executive director. Kent has had a long career in the outdoor industry, including the last six years on the Camber Outdoors Board of Directors. We are confident that under his leadership, OIA’s value to the industry will continue to grow.

Applauding the Signing of the Inflation Reduction Act

Rich Harper, OIA’s director of government affairs, joined policymakers and industry leaders at the White House on Sept. 13 to celebrate the signing of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) into law by President Biden. The IRA – the most ambitious proposal to fight climate change in our country’s history – will protect the planet, support American workers, and uplift the $689 billion outdoor industry.

OIA thanks the tireless advocacy of outdoor companies and outdoorists across the country for their work in creating a cleaner and more sustainable future in America. This is a monumental win for the outdoors and will spur unprecedented efforts to incentivize the utilization of clean energy across both residences and the private sector, catalyzing major changes in the way Americans address their energy needs, as well as investing in efforts to mitigate pollution and address environmental justice across the nation.

Releasing of the 2022 Outdoor Participation Trends Report

Last month, the Outdoor Foundation, the philanthropic arm of OIA, released the 2022 Outdoor Participation Trends Report. According to the report, more than half (54%) of Americans ages six and older participated in at least one outdoor activity in 2021, and the outdoor recreation participant base grew 2.2% during 2021 to 164.2 million participants. This growing number of outdoor enthusiasts, however, did not fundamentally alter long-term declines in high-frequency or “core” outdoor participation.

Additional key findings of the report include:

  • New outdoor participants are more diverse than the overall outdoor participant base and are driving increasing diversity not only by ethnicity but also across age groups.
  • The number of participants 55 years and older increased by more than 14% since 2019 and senior participants ages 65 and older were in the fastest-growing age category, with 16.9% growth since the COVID pandemic began in early 2020.
  • Over the past two years, participation rates have increased across the board for America’s youth. Since 2019, girls ages 6 to 12 are now participating at a rate 4.9% higher, and girls 13 to 17 are now participating at a rate 5.3% higher.

Celebrating Leadership on the America’s Outdoor Recreation Act

As Americans are displaying a renewed passion for the outdoors, it is imperative that legislation and federal funding matches the demand and that changes are made to address long-term challenges facing the environment and the outdoor recreation industry. The America’s Outdoor Recreation Act will improve, protect, and provide additional access to the nation’s wonders while supporting the important economic contributions that come from the outdoor recreation industry.

In August, OIA recognized the exemplary leadership of Senator Bill Cassidy for his support on the bill and its effort to preserve the natural beauty and valuable wetlands in Louisiana and across the country. An op-ed was written and published in his home state thanking him for his support of this historic legislation.