OIA in D.C. Notes from the Hill: April 2023

This past month, outdoor industry leaders, policymakers, and other key stakeholders convened in Washington, D.C. at OIA’s annual Capitol Summit to promote OIA’s policy agenda on climate, recreation, equity in the outdoors, international trade and the $862 billion outdoor recreation economy. We look forward to continuing to use our outdoor voices to fight for the outdoor economy and our entire planet.

Hosting Annual Capitol Summit

From April 18-19, OIA’s members met directly with members of Congress and other administration officials to discuss critical legislation that supports the entirety of the outdoor recreation economy, including key topics like trade, climate, access, and equity.

“This is an extraordinary opportunity for the outdoor industry to be heard,” said OIA President Kent Ebersole. “Since our last Capitol Summit in 2019, more than 10 million Americans participated in outdoor recreation for the first time, or for the first time in years. This increase in the number of people spending time outside was not merely a method for managing stress from lockdown during a global pandemic. We witnessed a multi-generational mind shift around the physical, mental, and emotional health benefits of spending time in nature, as over half of the U.S. population flocked to the outdoors.”

Key speakers at the Summit included Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development Xochitl Torres-Small. Secretary Haaland kicked off the Summit to discuss the critical importance of the outdoor industry and thriving communities that rely on the restoration and health of our national parks and public lands and monuments. She specifically celebrated the successful investments to Bear Ears National Monument and Biden’s designation of the Castner Range National Monument in Texas and Avi Kwa Ame National Monument in southern Nevada. Under Secretary Torres-Small joined the Summit to highlight the great opportunities we have to further engage USDA and boost the outdoor recreation economy in rural areas.

The next day, we took to the Hill to meet with elected officials and discuss the importance of outdoor investments and other key issues.

Honoring Congressional Friends of the Industry

During the Capitol Summit, we were thrilled to announce and honor OIA’s Friend of the Industry Award recipients Representative Nanette Barragán, D-CA, chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the co-chair of the United for Climate and Environmental Justice Congressional Task Force; Representative Adrian Smith, R-NE, chair of the Trade Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee; and Senator Joe Manchin, D-WV, chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, in recognition of their legislative leadership around outdoor recreation and their dedication to supporting the outdoor industry.

Insisting Destructive Tariffs be Lifted to Ease Burdens on American Businesses

OIA, along with the Americans for Free Trade coalition, a broad alliance of American businesses, trade organizations, and workers united against tariffs, submitted a written statement to the Senate Finance Committee and House Ways & Means Committee’s 2023 Trade Policy Agenda hearings. The statement called on Congress to insist that the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) make a products exclusions process available immediately and for as long as section 301 tariffs remain in place.

Since April 2018, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has assessed more than $173 billion in section 301 tariffs on American companies who import products from China. These taxes continue to create tremendous uncertainty, increase the cost of doing business in the U.S., and place an undue financial burden on American businesses – negatively impacting their ability to invest in their companies, hire more American workers, develop innovative technologies, and remain globally competitive.

Updating on State and Local Activity

During the Cap Summit, OIA highlighted our state policy platform and hosted a panel encouraging member companies and partners to explore more activism and investment in state-level advocacy. Joining the panel was VF Corporation’s Senior Director of Government Affairs Julie Sutton, Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office’s Director Conor Hall, and Maine Outdoor Brands Executive Director Jenny Kordick.

Another exciting component of the Cap Summit was the inclusion of state-based outdoor recreation directors from across the nation, who make up the Confluence of States. The Confluence met in Annapolis prior to the Summit to discuss the development of the network, the national and local outdoor recreation economy, and opportunities to further partner with outdoor industry partners. They took their initiatives to the Hill and met with pivotal stakeholders during the Summit like Dennis Alvord, deputy assistant secretary for economic development and chief operating officer for the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), to discuss how EDA funding impacts communities and powers outdoor recreation economies across the U.S.


The Way We Define ‘Outdoors’ Needs to Change, Says Washington, D.C.’s Thrive Outside Director

Q&A with Akiima Price, Thrive Outside Washington D.C. Director 

By Kassondra Kloos

The Outdoor Foundation’s Thrive Outside Initiative is a national network of partners working to create a more inclusive and accessible outdoor experience for all. In this Impact Stories series, we talk to local Thrive Outside leaders to learn more about their community and their vision for the future.  

Throughout her career, Akiima Price has been working to increase participation in the outdoors—and to change the way we define it. There’s no “right” way to spend time outdoors, she says. Sitting in a park playing Uno with your kids, or painting your nails at a picnic table, or just having a conversation, is better than not spending time in that park at all. 

As the Thrive Outside director for Washington, D.C., Price is building a network of organizations to help children and adults forge meaningful, lasting connections with nature. 

We asked her about her plans for the Thrive Outside Washington, D.C. Community, and how the outdoor industry can better collaborate with groups breaking down barriers in their own communities. 

How do you define the “outdoors?” 

I think it’s dependent on your environment. If you live in a rural area, your outdoors could be trees and grass. If you live in an urban area, your outdoors could be simply not indoors. As an urbanite, when I can choose where to be outdoors, I choose to be near water. Some people don’t have a choice about what their outdoors is, in terms of where they live. Most times, when people say outdoors, you think trees, grass, pleasant—you don’t think scary. But for some people, if you say, “go outdoors,” it’s scary, because they may not live in areas that feel safe. 

It’s important to understand that being active in the “outdoors” doesn’t mean the same thing to everybody. Some feel like if you’re not kayaking or doing traditional athletics or recreation—it doesn’t “count.” We need to shift that. People use parks and outdoor spaces to play cards, to play basketball, to have cookouts. Those experiences count. 

What are some ways you’re addressing safety concerns and helping people feel more comfortable in parks and green spaces? 

We’re doing way more programming, from May all the way through November. We have a skate pavilion, so people often come on their own and skate. We’ve also been doing a monthly late-night skating program. We keep the park open until 10 p.m. and have DJs and concerts and incredibly thoughtful programming—like family portraits at every event, and making homemade bug spray in the summer months. It’s looking a lot better, and people are feeling safer. 

What motivates your interest in working with Thrive Outside and the outdoor industry? 

Oh gosh, it’s so pregnant with possibility. The industry wants to address access, and I’ve got a laundry list of access issues. This Thrive work helps me connect with other people in other cities who have similar challenges, who I can learn from. Everybody has something to contribute and we see ourselves in each other. 

What are some examples of programming you’ve done with Thrive so far? 

My first thing out of the gate was the Thrive Washington, D.C. After School Teen Respite Program. We were on the heels of a youth-fueled gun violence epidemic that summer in Washington, D.C. and realized we weren’t doing much with teens between ages 14 and 19. We wondered how can we use Anacostia Park to keep kids safe and provide rest or relief during out of school time hours when they were most vulnerable. We realized early on we would need to provide transportation, food, and a stipend, and make this all about recreation not so much education. This needed to be an opportunity for them to just be kids.  

So we recruited 30 stressed youth to participate in a 6-week after-school program in our park. We gave everyone a time card, and asked them to fill out four 30-minute time slots with whatever they wanted. At least one had to be the “Me Time” station where we worked with an organization that did group therapy with kids, and they loved it. Other activities included riding a bike, skating, and playing basketball. For every activity they completed, they got $5—so $20 per day, every day after school, for six weeks. It was so nice just seeing them giggle and chase each other. These are older teens who are too cool for school, but ultimately, it was amazing. 

How have the outdoors been important in your own life? 

I grew up in the 70s in an area with a lot of urban development going on. My dad grew up in the country and my mom grew up on a farm, so they exposed me to camping and fishing and the outdoors when I was younger. When I was old enough to play outside, I was fascinated by caterpillars, and even more fascinated when I learned what they turn into. I was always fascinated and connected and loved nature, animals, and water. By the time I was old enough to have a car, I sought out camping experiences and the ocean. The ocean is my therapist. During all the coverage of George Floyd, oh my God, it was so heavy. It impacted my work, where so many people wanted to have deep conversations about things I had been saying all along. I was losing it, and I just remember going out to the eastern shore. I would drive across the Bay Bridge and just feel like a whole new person. 

What are your goals for the next few years with Thrive Outside? 

I’m setting the groundwork for creating networks to put existing groups in contact with one another. Imagine a room where we’ve got existing environmental groups together, and then we bring in social services, human services, and non-traditional, justice-focused partners. That’s phase one—establishing the room and making sure people have everything they need so they don’t leave that room while I go out and get other groups involved. Once we’ve got diversity in that room, we can do an assessment so everyone can say, “Hey, I do this well, and here’s where I need support.” 

What kinds of support could brands offer to organizations like those you work with to make a meaningful impact? 

Groups are often used to giving money, but sometimes giving gear can be even more useful. A coat manufacturer, for example, could outfit an elementary school in a low-income area so the kids can have recess outside during the winter. Sometimes parks really just need chairs, or hammocks. Not a lot of people get to lay in a hammock in their lifetime. It seems really simple, but if more parks had freestanding hammocks and people could experience them, my goodness, that’s my dream. 

I had this master list of $14,000 worth of gear and it included things like kayaks and really nice binoculars. If you’ve never experienced a really nice pair of binoculars, you’re missing out. And that’s another reason for the industry to get involved in this way—people spend money on what matters to them, including low-income people. Right now it just looks like a bunch of rich people who make cool stuff because they like to be outside, but a lot of this stuff is actually very practical, and just needs to be more inclusive. 


The View from Capitol Summit: What Happened and Where We’re Venturing Next

OIA Capitol Summit

We used our outside voices, and our industry was heard loud and clear.  

Live from the Hill, we want to extend our greatest thanks to all our sponsors, business leaders, elected officials, and fellow outdoor enthusiasts for joining us in our nation’s capital for our annual Capitol Summit! 

As the outdoor industry’s catalyst for meaningful change, we’re passionately committed to doing the work to advocate for the economy, inclusion, participation, and the health of the planet. Over the past few days, OIA galvanized the community around our advocacy priorities – and we’re just getting started. 

Read on for a recap of what went down at Capitol Summit, and a guide to opportunities for further advocacy. 

Sustaining Outdoor Traditions and Public Land Stewardship for Economic Growth is Possible 

Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland 

Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland invigorated attendees with her inspiring and encouraging keynote presentation about the implementation of the recently passed Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Great American Outdoors Act. A member of the Pueblo of Laguna and the first Native American to serve in a cabinet secretary position, Haaland shared her perspective on the critical importance of the outdoor industry – not only to thriving communities, but also to a thriving economy. 

Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland

“That’s what the Outdoor Industry Association is all about. It’s about sustaining outdoor traditions that help our communities to thrive – hunting, fishing, climbing, hiking, and everything in between – while working together to protect incredible places for future generations.  

And your dedicated efforts don’t just help steward public lands and waters for the enjoyment of all, they also have a significant and undeniable impact on our nation’s economy! 

Jobs in outdoor recreation ensure families can put food on the table, create diverse revenue streams for communities, and bring new opportunities to lesser-known outdoor spaces.” 

— Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland 

Eric Raymond, Director of Social Impact and Advocacy at The North Face, introduced the Secretary to Capitol Summit attendees, sharing “Secretary Haaland is a true inspiration, a tireless advocate for our planet, and for people from all walks of life. She is a fierce and passionate advocate for environmental justice, climate action, outdoor recreation, and conservation. And she does this all in service of future generations. We could not be more grateful for Secretary Haaland’s leadership and for her enduring support of the outdoor industry and our shared values.”  

Collective Voices and Actions on Common Ground Issues   

USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development Xochitl Torres-Small educated attendees on the critical importance of rural development and agriculture to the health of the outdoor economy, while outdoor business and advocacy leaders from Conservation Alliance, Outdoor Alliance, REI Co-Op, Nuestra Tierra Conservation Project, Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office, Maine Outdoor Brands, VF Corporation, KEEN Footwear, NEMO Equipment, and Vista Outdoor explored how to take action on equity, trade, and climate policy at varying governmental levels. 

We also had the chance to share our OIA team’s expertise. OIA’s President, Kent Ebersole; Director of Government Affairs, Rich Harper; State and Local Government Affairs Manager, Rebecca Gillis; Policy Fellow, Hannah Wintucky; COO Dr. Arlene Charles; and Outdoor Foundation’s Executive Director Stephanie Maez led discussions on the outdoor industry’s top policy priorities, including:  

Recreation and conservation policies like the America’s Outdoor Recreation Act (AORA) and Farm Bill. 

Balanced trade policy that enables innovation and sustainable evolution like the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) and miscellaneous tariff bills (MTBs). 

Additional legislative opportunities to increase equitable access to and participation in the outdoors.  

Every member of Congress and their staff has a favorite place in the outdoors and a favorite outdoor activity. You may not agree on every issue, but you can always start a conversation and that can lead to some common ground. And in a divided Congress, with a contested presidential election coming up, the ability to begin a conversation is more important than ever. Your voice will elevate and enhance our advocacy here in Washington, D.C. throughout the year – and we will support you and your business as you continue your engagement on these issues in your local communities and states,” said Rich Harper, Director of Government Affairs, OIA.  


OIA GA team


Narrowing the Nature Gap  

Our OIA and Outdoor Foundation team partnered with Friends of Anacostia Park to host a community gathering centered on outdoor equity, access, and inclusion. Attendees built relationships with local community leaders, discussed challenges like the Nature Gap, and learned collective impact strategies for breaking down barriers to outdoor access, as exemplified by the work of organizations like Outdoor Foundation and Friends of Anacostia Park. 


Thrive Outside Community Gathering


And the Outdoor Industry Award Goes to… 

During our Friend of the Outdoor Industry Award reception, Representative Nanette Barragán, Senator Joe Manchin, and Representative Adrian Smith were recognized for enduring commitment to the outdoor industry, public lands, and international trade and climate policies that promote the growth and success of outdoor businesses.  

Representative Barragán (D-CA)

Rep. Barragán is dedicated to protecting our public lands and waters and investing in initiatives to expand access to the outdoors for all Americans – regardless of zip code. A tremendous champion for equitable access and opportunity, she is a lead sponsor of the ‘Outdoors for All Act,’ which is designed to provide much-needed funding for urban green spaces. 

“I am honored to receive the Friend of Industry award from the Outdoor Industry Association. OIA’s work to support outdoor access and park equity for communities of color and low-income communities is critical for the health and well-being of our communities, and the environment. I look forward to our continued efforts to pass the Outdoors for All Act, fight climate change, and close the nature equity gap in Latino communities and communities of color,” said Rep. Barragán. 

Senator Manchin (D-WV)

Senator Manchin played an instrumental role in the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act’s $369 billion in new funding for climate solutions and infrastructure. Additionally, his sponsorship of the America’s Outdoor Recreation Act – the most comprehensive outdoor recreation package since the Kennedy administration – is instrumental for the future of our industry and access to our public lands and waterways for the record number of outdoor participants. 

It is an honor to accept this award from the Outdoor Industry Association,” Senator Manchin said. “OIA has a strong history of advocating for America’s public lands and our beautiful outdoor spaces. As an avid outdoorsmen and son of Wild and Wonderful West Virginia, some of my proudest moments in Congress have been working to protect and conserve the American traditions of hunting, fishing, hiking and more. I look forward to continuing to work with OIA to ensure that future generations are able to enjoy and fall in love with the great outdoors as we all have, said Senator Manchin.

Representative Smith (R-NE)

Rep. Smith is a long-time champion of the outdoor economy and OIA’s balanced trade agenda. He led the effort to add travel goods to the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), resulting in $300 million in duty savings annually for outdoor companies and a $5 billion shift of trade out of China.  

“I’m honored to receive this award. A strong outdoor industry needs sound trade policy to level the playing field and compete fairly in the global marketplace. We must continue to aggressively pursue American interests to the benefit of businesses, manufacturers, and consumers alike,” said Rep. Smith. 


Advocacy Next Steps 

Together with our fellow outdoor industry business leaders, collaborators, and Congressional supporters, we made tremendous progress on our unwavering effort to advocate for the outdoor economy, outdoor participation, and our planet.  

But our work doesn’t end here, and neither do your opportunities to get involved and be a part of the movement. 

Here’s how you can continue to use your outside voice to be an advocate wherever you are – from The Hill in D.C. to the hills in your hometown: 

Download our Advocacy Handbook: Gain insight into how OIA builds and mobilizes advocacy networks on the intersectional issues that impact our industry, and how you and your company can get involved. 

Register for our Virtual Advocacy Session on May 11, 2023: Our Government Affairs team will unveil its 2023 policy agenda, and share how you and your company can engage policy makers and support the long-term health of the outdoors, outdoor participants, and company bottom lines.  

Sign up for OIA’s policy alerts, which share timely updates on key outdoor legislation and how you can take action. 

Reach out to our Government Affairs team! Learn about OIA’s member-only networking, education, and convening opportunities that align with your outdoor company’s growth strategy; explore the option of joining one of OIA’s advisory councils; and start brainstorming how your businesses can understand and apply lobbying and advocacy actions. 

Follow us on social to stay up-to-date on policy updates and new ways to get involved. 


More than ever, with urgency and swift action, OIA is committed to its work as a catalyst for meaningful and positive change for the outdoor industry, its people, and its planet. We’re using our outside voice to advocate for balanced trade policy; sustainable business solutions; and expanded, safe access to the outdoors for this generation and many more to come. Join us. 


Research Roundup: Spring 2023

Outdoor Consumers are Dreaming About Spending Their IRS Refunds 

It’s tax season, and many outdoor recreation participants expect a refund from the IRS. The IRS reports that the average refund in 2023 will be $3,140, enough to pay for things like a new bike, next year’s ski pass, camping gear, or a solar generator. Right now, while consumers wait for refunds to arrive, they are thinking about how to use them. Research in neuropsychology reveals that we experience powerful emotions when thinking about future events. This period of anticipation—when people dream about experiences they plan to have—is the perfect time to market outdoor experiences and the products associated with them, like riding a new bike on an epic trip to Moab (and all of the micro-experiences related to biking) or just hiking local trails in new boots. This is the period in which marketing is most effective because it can help consumers weave their desire for experiences into purchases of products that will enhance that experience. Outdoor consumers expecting tax refunds are dreaming right now, so tap into it and help them do more than simply imagine the experiences your products can unleash.  

Outdoor Consumers Care about Brands’ Social Stances 

The risks of taking stands on social issues include lost customers, damage to brand image, and reduced sales. On the flip side, more than half of outdoor consumers say that they do care about brands’ stances on social issues. Currently, identity politics is having an impact across the market, and this creates dangerous waters for many outdoor brands. Social Identity Theory was originally developed to explore the psychological basis of intergroup discrimination. Tajfel et al. (1971) attempted to identify minimum conditions that would lead members of one group to discriminate for the in-group to which they belonged and against another out-group. The most striking example is the current divide driven by the concept of being “woke.” Lists of woke brands are circulated by both pro and con groups signaling whether members should buy more of or “cancel” the brand. These campaigns tend to be started and amplified by the fringes that have strong feelings or gain politically by filtering everything through their identity filter. The data indicate a more reasoned response from most consumers.   

A deeper dive reveals that while these consumers care about a brand’s stance, they don’t always think brands should take positions on social or political issues. In today’s environment, that may be unavoidable. Only one-third of outdoor consumers asked said that brands should NEVER take a stand on social or political issues. While consumers expect brands to have some kind of stance on social and political issues, they don’t want the brands to be reactive. Brands may consider communicating core values that describe the fundamental beliefs and priorities of the brand. For example, a brand could talk about sustainability and climate as core values and choose not to comment on a devastating hurricane.  


ChatGPT is a useful tool for outdoor brands 

Recently, ChatGPT has been getting a lot attention, but what is it, and what can it do? ChatGPT is a prototype artificial intelligence chatbot developed by OpenAI, which specializes in dialogue/chat. It can write product descriptions, help you write a business plan, describe consumer segments (you have to come with data), and even help with financials. 

I couldn’t help trying it out. Here is a sample of the questions asked and the AI-generated answers: 

Question/direction:  Can you define hiking?   

ChatGPT answer:  

“Hiking is a form of outdoor activity that involves walking or trekking through natural environments, such as mountains, forests, or trails. It is often done for leisure, exercise, or to explore and appreciate the beauty of the outdoors. Hiking can range from short, easy walks on well-defined trails to longer, more challenging hikes on rugged terrain and can be done alone or with a group. Hiking often involves some degree of physical exertion but can be enjoyed by people of all ages and fitness levels.” 

Question/direction: Write a business plan for heated ski poles.   

ChatGPT response:  

Sample from the Executive Summary: 

“At Heated Ski Poles, Inc., our goal is to provide skiers with the ultimate skiing experience. Our innovative heated ski poles will keep skiers’ hands warm and comfortable throughout the day, allowing them to enjoy their time on the slopes without being hindered by cold fingers. Our poles will be made of high-quality materials and feature state-of-the-art heating technology. We will offer a range of heated ski poles in different sizes and styles to accommodate the needs of all skiers.” 

This tool is a glimpse into the future of search, supercharged by machine learning and ultimately by AI. This technology has vast implications for the future of access to information. This could shake up the service economy, including financial services, logistics, supply chain management, market research, technical writing services, coding and computer programming, and many others. ChatGPT can write code, mathematical formulae, and even poetry.  

Click here to try ChatGPT 


Trend Spotter: “Core”  

According to the online news site Fashionista, new “core” aesthetics are showing up daily in TikTok feeds, including the previously covered “Cottage Core” and “Gorpcore” trends. Fashionista made a list that includes descriptions of each aesthetic, starting with the original “normcore,” coined to describe a unisex fashion trend in 2014 by millennials at K-Hole marketing. The point isn’t the aesthetics but rather the influence of Gen Z, in particular, and also language on how we describe aesthetics. Core is part of that trend, including:  

  • Darkcore aesthetic
  • Balletcore 
  • Cottage core 
  • Barbiecore 
  • Vacation core  

OIA in D.C. Notes from the Hill: March 2023

Under the new leadership of Outdoor Industry Association’s President, Kent Ebersole, OIA has a renewed focus on promoting crucial legislation like America’s Outdoor Recreation Act (AORA) and working with the Biden administration to further protect our public lands, waterways, and special outdoor spaces. We look forward to expanding these initiatives next month at OIA’s 2023 Capitol Summit, where industry leaders from across the continent will gather in D.C.  

Announcing Kent Ebersole as the New OIA President 

On March 21, our Board of Directors named industry veteran Kent Ebersole as President of OIA after serving seven months as the organization’s interim executive director. 

“Every OIA member, staff, board member, or donor is a catalyst for knowledge, sustainability, collective action, inclusion and connection,” said Ebersole. “Collectively, the outdoor industry is a force of nature and most importantly a force of change. None of the work we do could happen if it wasn’t for our passionate members and collaborators. I thank them and the OIA board for this opportunity to lead our industry forward.” 

Congressional Outdoor Recreation Legislation  

After building significant support for AORA in the last Congress with lawmakers, industry leaders, and other stakeholders, we are thrilled to see Senators Manchin (D-WV) and Barrasso (R-WY) reintroduce this legislation as federal support for and investments in recreation infrastructure and public lands are critical to the continued success of the outdoor industry.  

In a letter– which will be sent to the Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and the Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) – OIA expresses how provisions laid out in AORA will increase access to the outdoors by simplifying the permitting process for public lands and cutting regulatory red tape that creates barriers to recreation, providing meaningful economic opportunities to countless communities and local outdoor industry businesses.  

Additionally, Fred Ferguson, vice president of public affairs and communications at Vista, testified before the House Subcommittee on Federal Lands on March 28, advocating for policies like the BOLT Act, Range Access Act, FILM Act, SOAR Act, and SHRED Act to expand recreation opportunities and fund organizations whose missions bring more people outside. 

The bills would inject critical federal investments in recreation infrastructure and public parks and take steps to help ensure America’s outdoors are open, sustainable, and equally accessible for all. This package is designed to accommodate Americans’ growing participation in outdoor recreation. 

Ferguson emphasized how outdoor recreation is a pillar of the United States economy and “the current climate and long-term outlook make today’s bipartisan hearing essential, and we urge the Subcommittee to move with speed and conviction to enact these bills.” 

Applauding Biden Administration Investments in Public Lands 

On March 21, Ebersole praised President Biden’s White House Conservation in Action Summit announcement to establish two new national monuments saying, “from Utah – where OIA strongly advocated for the protection of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante – to Avi Kwa Ame National Monument in Nevada and Castner Range National Monument in Texas, we are thrilled to see President Biden protecting communities and public lands that honor local businesses, military veterans, and Tribal Nations.” 

The Biden administration continues to deliver on the most ambitious land and water conservation agenda to conserve at least 30 percent of U.S. lands and waters by 2030. The outdoor industry, along with its 100-member-strong Climate Action Corps, commends these historic investments and national monument designations. 

Announcing Partnership with Climate Neutral 

On March 28, OIA announced its latest partnership with Climate Neutral to make it easier for OIA members to measure their carbon emissions. By partnering with Climate Neutral, OIA is demonstrating its commitment to supporting sustainability in the outdoor industry and providing its members with the tools and resources they need to make a positive impact on the environment. 

The use of the Brand Emissions Estimator tool and achievement of Climate Neutral certification by a significant number of OIA members offers a tangible milestone on the pathway towards OIA’s industry goal of becoming climate positive by 2030. 

Praising the Introduction of the Environmental Justice in Recreation Permitting Act 

On March 14, Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, introduced the Environmental Justice in Recreation Permitting Actto help underserved community groups access and enjoy Nevada’s public lands for outdoor recreation. 

Ebersole praised how “simplifying the permitting process for public lands and cutting regulatory red tape will eliminate barriers to outdoor recreation, support local businesses, and bring meaningful economic opportunities to thousands of communities… We commend Senator Cortez Masto for leading the charge.” 

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 membership and stakeholder partners. 

New Mexico: On Thursday, March 23, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed into law the Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund. This historic program creates a permanent fund for outdoor recreation, outdoor equity, public land conservation, climate resilience, and more. 

Wyoming: On March 9, Governor Mark Gordon signed legislation that will create the Wyoming Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Trust Fund with an initial $6 million appropriation. The funds will be devoted to carrying out projects supporting twelve state parks, two of the nation’s most popular national parks, and world-class hiking, hunting, fishing, and climbing. In a state where the outdoor sector contributes $1.5 billion to the state’s economy and sustains over 15,000 jobs, this funding is essential to Wyoming’s economy and heritage.  


Letter from New OIA President Kent Ebersole

Dear members and fellow catalysts,

I’m so pleased to be able to share the news of my appointment to the role of President for the Outdoor Industry Association with you. I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity and close partnership with our Board, my dedicated staff and passionate committee members who have supported my onboarding journey over the past 7 months. Like many of you, it’s my passion for the outdoors and desire for value-based collaboration that I believe will set OIA up for success for this year and into the next decade.

I have one crystal clear priority that motivates me every day.  As OIA President, I will ensure that OIA continues to be the industry’s catalyst for meaningful change. We’re an incredibly broad reaching member-led collective that stands for positive progress in every element of the industry. But we have evolved since then to be much clearer about the value of our core pillars.

OIA’s industry-defining research is a force for change allowing you to better understand the markets and the consumers you care about. In 2023, we are launching 3 new research products & services, including new consumer reports, specialty sport reports, and consumer panels.

OIA’s tireless government affairs team is a force for collective action. There are now 16 State Offices of Recreation (OREC), and we look forward to welcoming 2 more states by the end of 2023. We won’t stop until we achieve the creation of 50 bipartisan state offices, working together to protect and sustain our water, air, land, and wildlife for current and future generations. Equally, in 2023 and until it passes, OIA is committed to seeing America’s Outdoor Recreation Act (AORA) through, the single biggest piece of federal legislation that will increase outdoor opportunities by funding infrastructure and economic opportunities for gateway communities and underserved populations across the nation.

OIA is a force for sustainable growth. Since 2019, over 100 members have joined the Climate Action Corps committed to the work of reducing industry-wide greenhouse gas emissions. In 2023 and beyond, we are focused on enlisting at least 80% of the outdoor industry to meet an aggressive but achievable goal of becoming a climate positive industry by 2030. In addition, we are launching a brand-new program and working group, the Clean Chemistry Coalition, to swiftly meet the needs of retailers, manufacturers, and distributors for implementing a thoughtful and phased approach to eliminating PFAS and other harmful chemicals from outdoor products.

OIA is a force for inclusion. Through the Outdoor Foundation’s Thrive Outside Initiative, we continue to make multi-year investments in 13 community programs and countless leaders who already know what they need to harness the benefits of spending time outdoors. In addition to our work of shaping equitable access through legislative means, and upholding OREC’s guidance of partnering with tribal members as co-managers of natural resources, OIA is evolving inclusion initiatives through internal culture and collaborations and creating a diverse pipeline of people who can see themselves as our industry’s next product designers, testers and sustainability champions. We know that we will always have work to ensure the outdoor industry represents and serves all backgrounds and voices. But as a catalyst, we are committed to iterating for the vital success of the outdoor industry.

Finally, I see OIA as a force for connection. We are doubling down on valuable products and services and introducing new programs and offerings. We are modernizing operations and changing how we deliver membership experiences so that the information and services you want and need are timely, highly relevant, and personalized to your business. We are doing this so that you, our members, can be catalysts in your own right—sustainability champions, product innovators, community builders, climate change agents, or business leaders.

Notwithstanding the current economic climate, I believe that one of the reasons we lost momentum is because we didn’t connect the dots on how our work supports your business and the communities you care about.  But this is what catalysts do—we “connect the dots, set things in motion, and learn continually”*. The nature of catalyst work is complex and much of it is invisibly and swiftly happening behind the scenes. We are pivoting to meet the needs of your business today but always with an eye on the future horizon.

While OIA has been charting this map for a minute, 30 minutes of years to be exact, we’re going to need your boots on the ground to help tread the path. To those of you who have been members for years and years, thank you for continuing to align your business commitments with our values. For those of you that have recently joined OIA, let me be the first to extend a very warm welcome. Your voice and support are just what this industry needs to make better and do better.

Together, we are a member-led collective and the industry’s catalyst for meaningful change.

Kent Ebersole
Outdoor Industry Association

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.

Confluence Summit in Alaska Highlights Equity and Active Transportation 

Written by Alaska Outdoor Alliance (AOA) Executive Director Lee Hart

Nearly 80 outdoor industry stakeholders and allies traveled by plane and ferry and across the Canadian border to take part in Alaska Outdoor Alliance’s 7th Annual Confluence: Summit on the Outdoor Recreation Economy, held in Haines last month. 

Key state and federal leaders participating in the event before and after their brief remarks included Sen. Lisa Murkowski; Raina Thiele, senior advisor to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland for Alaska Affairs & Strategic Priorities; and Julia Hnilicka, USDA Rural Development state director. 

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. A subgroup of attendees pledged to continue collaborating on transboundary economic development priorities. Another subgroup has already met to form the foundation of a statewide active transportation coalition.  

“From the Arctic to the Tongass, there are incredible efforts literally transforming local economies and ways of connecting with the outdoors that are being guided by Indigenous wisdom and values,” said AOA Executive Director Lee Hart. “Confluence facilitated candid, passionate conversations among participants that led to a list of action steps aimed at co-creating a more regenerative future.” 

Unique to many industry gatherings, Confluence was co-presented by the Chilkoot Indian Association, which hosted a salmon bake, after which participants shared stories highlighting centuries-old relationships with land, water, fish, wildlife, and ancestors. On the last stormy day of the event, the nearby Chilkat Indian Village gifted a special, personalized tour of their Jilkaat Kwaan Heritage Center, a network helping to address the pressing issue of where to put precious clan treasures and the villagers’ desire to rebuild and restore their cultural heritage.