La Niña is going strong, and powder season is upon us. The OIA government affairs team is hard at work prepping to monitor legislative sessions across all 50 states and the federal government. Our work in government affairs allows us to make sure that OIA members have a seat at the table amidst important policy decisions and resource allocation happening in every state. Our job is to amplify your voices, promote our shared values, and ensure that our elected officials are making decisions that prioritize the health of the industry, outdoorists, and the environment.
In 2023, I will be keeping a close watch and weighing in on state-level legislation diminishing barriers to the outdoors, staying apprised of important sustainability policies that will impact our industry, leading the movement to create more outdoor recreation offices, and encouraging lawmakers and governors to make long-term investments in recreation and the planet.
Please reach out to me if you have any questions or want to learn more!
State & Local Government Affairs Manager
Massachusetts Office of Outdoor Recreation
In early December, former Governor Charlie Baker’s (R-MA) Administration announced the establishment of the Massachusetts Office of Outdoor Recreation, which will be located in the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretariat. This marks the creation of the nation’s 18th office of outdoor recreation.
The new Massachusetts Office of Outdoor Recreation could be a powerful catalyst in unlocking further economic power of the industry across the state. Our next step is to stay in contact with recently-inaugurated Governor Maura Healey (D-MA) to communicate the importance of outdoor recreation offices. We will also encourage her to name a full-time, fully staffed director to take the helm of the newly created office.
PFAS legislation continues into 2023
In October, OIA worked with members and technical experts to provide an education session with timely and pivotal updates on legislation and regulatory efforts across the country pertaining to PFAS. Many of these pieces of legislation are having and will continue to have sizable impacts on the outdoor industry. The education session had high attendance and provided timely information for members.
The ongoing interest and passage of legislation around PFAS across the states is not expected to slow down in 2023. The sustainability and government affairs teams at OIA are working hand-in hand to ensure that our members have access to up-to-date education about the legislative and regulatory landscape. Most recently, we supported Maine Outdoor Brands (MOB) in ensuring that impacted members of both MOB and OIA have extensions for onerous PFAS reporting requirements in this coming year as the state continues to work through clarifying regulations and finalizing rulemaking. If you have questions about PFAS or how OIA can help you better understand how PFAS regulations will impact your business, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Trail Mix – More Updates, Resources, and Opportunities
OIA to seize opportunity to engage with new governors
The United States will see nine new governors take office in 2023. Many of these states are homes to outdoor recreation offices, outdoor business alliances, or both. In partnership with individual state-level stakeholders, OIA will send each new governor a letter after their inauguration highlighting the impact of the outdoor recreation economy in their home state.
Governors and executive branches are important partners at the state level. Not only do governors sign state-based legislation into law, but they also make important decisions via executive orders, budget priorities, and through setting cabinet agendas. Governor turnover will occur in 2023 in Nevada, Oregon, Hawaii, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Massachusetts, Arkansas, Arizona, and Nebraska. Stay tuned for opportunities to engage with these newly elected administrations in partnership with OIA’s government affairs team.
The government affairs team at OIA hosted an education session on major takeaways from the midterms in early November. The session highlighted major policy issues and opportunities at both the state and federal levels that our team will be focusing on in 2023. The post-midterms webinar provided OIA the opportunity to chat about outdoor policy in 2023. Here are a few highlights from the state level:
- In 2023, there will be a sizable number of newly elected legislators across the U.S., which means that the outdoor industry has an opportunity to develop new allies across statehouses throughout the country.
- A major state-level opportunity for 2023 and the following years will be advocating for funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). These historic federal spending bills will have an enormous amount of funding available to states for many things that we care about, including outdoor recreation infrastructure, climate mitigation measures, environmental justice, and grants and incentives for decarbonization across the American economy. The more investment we can secure, the more leverage we will continue to have to build stronger and sustainable recreation-based communities and ensure that the industry can flourish for decades to come.
- Other areas of focus for state policy will include a continued focus on establishing fully funded and sustainable offices of outdoor recreation and a push to create state-based outdoor equity funds across the nation.
On the Road
In partnership with California Outdoor Recreation Partnership (CORP) and Outdoor Alliance California (OA CA), OIA hosted California Basecamp in October. Several OIA, CORP, and OA CA members gathered in Bodega Bay, Calif., to meet with Katherine Toy, California Natural Resources Agency’s (CNRA) deputy secretary for access. Deputy Secretary Toy is heading up the state’s Outdoors for All Initiative and is seeking proactive engagement from the state’s outdoor industry.
CORP, OIA, and OA CA have stepped up our collaborative efforts over the past few years in order to share a cohesive voice and to be heard in the state’s capital in Sacramento. At California Basecamp, guests discussed advancing equity at the intersection of government and industry, advancing the state’s goal to protect 30% of our public lands and waters by 2030, and prioritizing funding for outdoor recreation infrastructure. Up next? We will continue to engage with Calif.-based outdoor recreation brands and galvanize around important policy advocacy and other opportunities to amplify the industry’s voice and values across one of the nation’s most important outdoor economies.
Alaska Outdoor Alliance (AOA) Executive Director Lee Hart shared with OIA key takeaways of the AOA’s 7th Annual Confluence: Summit on the Outdoor Recreation Economy held in Haines, Alaska, earlier this fall. This year’s theme, regenerative economies, attracted leaders in outdoor; tourism; economic development; and local, state, territorial, tribal and federal land managers, as well as counterparts from the Yukon. Keep reading here.
Confluence of States Summit
State outdoor recreation directors from across the United States gathered in Incline Village, Nev., this fall. The group, known as the Confluence of States, convened and discussed pressing topics for the outdoor economy in their home states and across the nation. In addition to planning and strategy discussions, the group also elected a new chair and vice chair.
As many of you might know, the Confluence of States is the collective bipartisan organization working to grow the state-based outdoor recreation industry and other areas such as conservation, public health, and workforce development. State outdoor recreation directors from across the nation convene through this group to create a collective voice for the outdoor economy. The fall meeting in Nevada was a great opportunity to chart out goals for 2023, opportunities to further strengthen the outdoor ecosystem, and how to work with other foundational groups in the outdoor ecosystem. A big congratulations to the newly elected chair, Brad Garmon, executive director of the Michigan Outdoor Recreation Industry Office, and vice-chair, Carolann Oullette, director of the Maine Office of Outdoor Recreation. Thank you to outgoing leadership, Colin Robertson, administrator of the Nevada Division of Outdoor Recreation, and Axie Navas, former director of the New Mexico Outdoor Recreation Division, for their dedication and passion in growing state-based recreation economies and building out the power of the Confluence network.
On Tuesday, Dec. 6, the OIA government affairs team and OIA members from NEMO Equipment, Snow Peak, REI, W.L. Gore, and Vista Outdoor Inc. convened in Washington, D.C., to advocate for important trade and recreation policies with elected officials and government agencies. OIA is working to advocate on important issues that are outstanding and seize the opportunity to explore new possibilities for legislation at the federal level that will have big impacts across states and the country for 2023.
OIA Recreation Advisory Council (RAC) Chair Theresa McKenney (NEMO) and Vice Chair Matt Liddle (Snow Peak) joined Marc Berejka (REI) and the OIA GA team for meetings at the Department of the Interior and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and with additional senate offices on Capitol Hill, including Senator Martin Heinrich’s (D-NM) office. OIA and RAC members discussed the impact of the outdoor recreation economy and important recreation policies such as America’s Outdoor Recreation Act (AORA) and the Farm Bill. Both AORA and the Farm Bill, if passed, could have positive major impacts at the state level on outdoor recreation, the outdoor economy, and the way recreationists experience the outdoors.
OIA Trade Advisory Council (TAC) Vice Chair Brent Merriam (NEMO), Fred Ferguson (Vista Outdoor Inc.), and Raphy Goodstein (W.L. Gore) joined the OIA GA team to meet with the United States Trade Representative, several senate and house offices in key states, the Senate Finance Committee, and the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade. Members discussed the impact of pivotal trade issues for the outdoor industry.
It is important that OIA shows up to remind our congressional representatives and agency leaders that the actions taken at the federal level do have the power to transform communities at the local and state levels, which is why it is so important that we tie our federal and state advocacy work together – to continue to build a cohesive narrative about the systemic opportunities to prioritize our values. As an $862 billion economy, the outdoor industry must utilize our economic power and our persuasive voices to inform and influence policy that impacts the well-being of the outdoors and outdoor economies.