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.
“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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.