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. 

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LinkedIn 

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. 

 

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. 

Higg, OIA, and EOG Are Equipping the Outdoor Industry to Be More Sustainable

For outdoor brands, measuring the impact of everything from technical gear and hardgoods to performance apparel can be challenging. Higg is proud to announce their partnerships with the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) and the European Outdoor Group (EOG). These collaborations offer the industry the opportunity to align on standards of measurement, reporting, and production. With many brands already engaging with all three entities, the harmonization will enable outdoor businesses to consistently measure, benchmark, and progress using a standard measurement system.

The relationships among Higg, OIA, and EOG provide the outdoor industry the opportunity to prioritize the tools and solutions it needs most. We’re optimistic that this repository of reliable primary data and leading industry measurement and analytics tools can help spearhead more sustainable production. In addition, we look forward to expanding product and material categories with insights from industry leaders. Facilities using Higg can continue to provide valuable data to the brands they work with, while forging stronger business partnerships.

Just like the outdoor industry, sustainability measurement continues to evolve. Materials are more advanced and technical. Enthusiasts increasingly look for brands that match their environmental and social values. With Higg, smaller brands have a unified view of their supply chain and can take responsibility for their entire impact – from carbon emissions to working conditions, materials to products, and stores. With resources through OIA, EOG, and Higg, they have the expert guidance and support to make decisions based on their unique needs and product lifecycle.

For example, EOG’s grant program is furthering brands’ ability to measure and take action, providing businesses that want to make a difference free access to Higg platform. Equip Outdoor Technologies, Halti, INTERSPORT IIC, and ORTOVOX are among the companies that have already participated in the program to expand their sustainability initiatives.

“The Higg grant scheme from EOG represented a great opportunity for us at ORTOVOX to try out the Higg Index in a structured and informative approach within the wide range of its possibilities. It allowed us step by step to start working with the tool with the professional support of the Higg team. This was a stepping stone for us!” — Andreas Wolf, CSR Manager

Through OIA’s Climate Action Corps, outdoor brands are banding together and committing to be the first climate positive industry by 2030. Being climate positive means reducing your greenhouse gas emissions in line with a science-based target (SBT) that addresses all scopes, removing even more GHG from the atmosphere than you emit, and for broader systemic change. Brands in the coalition have ambitious goals, and with the right tools, they can get there.

As a founding member of the Climate Action Corps, NEMO Equipment is paving the way for broad industry progress using Higg tools.

“NEMO utilizes the Higg MSI and Product Tool during our design process. Next, we’re working to integrate Higg data in our PLM system, and integrate FEM and FSLM in our Quality Program. Along with providing great tools, Higg has a team of experts who make training and sharing best practices a priority.” — Theresa McKenney, Director of Sustainability

Today, over 150 brands and retailers from OIA and EOG’s combined member base are utilizing Higg tools and data to help them with their sustainability goals and initiatives in the outdoor industry.

Together, we are excited to further empower the outdoor industry in their impact goals, and we look forward to seeing these partnerships grow.

Ready to learn how this partnership can help you reach your goals? 

Sign-On Letter: PFAS Reporting Requirement Extension for Outdoor Brands Selling Goods in Maine

Does your company operate or sell goods in Maine? Sign our letter to request an extension on PFAS compliance laws.​​​

Hello from Washington, D.C.,Across the country, we have seen increased activity concerning the use of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) in consumer products. Traditionally, PFAS have been used throughout the outdoor industry as the compounds are resistant to extreme elements like heat and water. Recent science has allowed us to better understand the negative human and environmental impacts that PFAS have, leading to the increased attention on PFAS phaseout across all sectors, including outdoor, juvenile products, food packaging, and more.A law passed in Maine in 2021, An Act To Stop Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances Pollution, is considered to be one of the most sweeping in the country. Although the State of Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is still moving through rulemaking and guidance for the public to better understand the law and its requirements, there are hard trigger dates for compliance that OIA manufacturers should know about.The most important date to note is January 1, 2023, when businesses throughout the state AND businesses that sell goods into the state will be expected to notify the DEP of any products for sale in the state that contain intentionally added PFAS. If a business is not in compliance with this deadline, it may face financial costs. DEP is allowing manufacturers in Maine and businesses that sell goods into the state to request an extension on this trigger date, pushing the reporting requirement back six months. OIA and our on-the-ground partner, Maine Outdoor Brands, have drafted an extension letter for our members.If you would like an extension for your company, please fill out this short form by this Friday at 5 p.m. (ET). Even if you are unsure if anything you sell contains PFAS, we encourage you to join the extension request to ensure you are in compliance, have products tested if necessary, and give DEP more time to provide guidance.This law may have measurable impacts on your business, and we want to work together to ensure that you are as prepared as possible to comply and eventually phase out intentionally added PFAS. For over a decade, our industry has been investing time and resources to develop safe, durable, innovative, and economical alternatives to PFAS, and we plan to all work together to ensure that the transition is economical, equitable, and safe.

Together we are a force.Rebecca GillisGovernment Affairs ManagerOUTDOOR INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION (OIA)

Policy News

Policy News

Policy news

For outdoor brands, measuring the impact of everything from technical gear and hardgoods to performance apparel can be challenging. Higg is proud to announce their partnerships with the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) and the European Outdoor Group (EOG). These collaborations offer the industry the opportunity to align on standards of measurement, reporting, and

On this Earth Day, we on the OIA Government Affairs team are reflecting on notable state-level policies, regulatory changes, and investments that are accelerating important progress on climate, conservation, education, and outdoor access. To celebrate, we want to share some of these significant highlights with you in hopes that it

OIA’s international trade program is dedicated to promoting a stable and predictable trade environment for outdoor businesses of all sizes, from domestic manufacturers to those that utilize global value chains to bring product to market. Members of OIA’s Trade Advisory Council (OIATAC) meet regularly to provide advice and guidance on

This is the second in our series about international trade and trade policy. In this episode, our director of government affairs Rich Harper and three members of our Trade Advisory Council, discuss the recent precipitous rise in shipping costs, which, on top of punitive tariffs, trade wars and the global

OIA was shocked and saddened to learn of the sudden passing of our former Vice President of Government Affairs, Patricia Rojas-Ungar. She was a passionate and inspiring advocate for the outdoors and our members and she will be sorely missed. A long-time government affairs executive and devoted wife and mother,

The Great Maryland Outdoors Act: A win for MD’s outdoors, community, and economy

Christy Bright, Western Region Manager, Maryland Park Service
Daryl Anthony, Executive Director, Maryland Office of Outdoor Recreation

As 2022 state legislative sessions wrap up and we reflect on major policy wins across the U.S., The Great Maryland Outdoors Act is a clear standout. OIA staff connected with Daryl Anthony, executive director of the Maryland Office of Outdoor Recreation, and western region manager Christy Bright at the Maryland Park Service, to learn more about the positive impacts this bill will have on Maryland’s outdoors, its citizens, and the state’s outdoor economy.  

Like many other states, Maryland’s park system saw a marked increase in traffic across its 77 units throughout the pandemic. Much of the increase in visitation was experienced in regions most accessible to nearby major metropolitan areas and in neighboring states. Alongside increased traffic came escalated stress on the resources of the Maryland Park Service. Equity and access concerns for underserved communities also became a greater priority. These conditions sparked discussion on how to address these new challenges. The result? The Great Maryland Outdoors Act.  

This act is an instructional example of collaboration between bipartisan lawmakers, state institutions, and other stakeholders working together to understand the needs of the Maryland Park Service, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and their employees. According to Executive Director Anthony, the Great Maryland Outdoors Act is geared toward advancing operations and capability of the Maryland Park Service.” These targeted investments will address specific resource shortages and will enhance the capacity of the DNR and its departments.  

Here are some of the components of the act: 

  • The act increases the number of permanent employees in the Department of Natural Resources, which will add institutional capacity to address challenges affiliated with increased visitation, safety, and aging infrastructure.  
  • The state’s Critical Maintenance Fund will receive an additional $70 million to address state park maintenance needs. These funds and the work they enable should positively impact the outdoor recreation industry across the state by updating infrastructure in and around recreation amenities.  
  • The Park System Capital Improvement and Acquisition Fund established in the act will allow the state to acquire additional land for state parks. Further development of outdoor amenities will alleviate overcrowding and access issues. Part of the funding allotted in the fund must also go toward climate change mitigation infrastructure projects.   
  • The act also establishes a Parks and Recreation Commission, which will oversee the Maryland Park Service. The commission will have representation from the legislature, appointees from the executive branch, Maryland citizens, and members specifically focused on environmental justice and sustainable communities. 
  • The creation of the $3 million Great Maryland Outdoors Fund directly applies to Maryland’s Office of Outdoor Recreation. The fund will be used to implement recommendations from the Maryland Outdoor Recreation Economic Commission. The monies may also be applied toward department projects and programs that “provide, promote, and enhance outdoor recreation opportunities in the State.” Some funding is also allotted to the marketing and promotion of state parks.  
  • Finally, the Great Maryland Outdoors Act establishes that the DNR work with the state’s Department of Labor to identify opportunities to create registered apprenticeship programs “to help address workforce shortages and the career workforce needs of DNR.” 

These sizable investments will result in a triple-bottom-line return for the state by imparting direct positive impacts on the health and wellness of the state’s citizens and the health of the environment, and they will enable further development of an outdoor recreation economy that already provides Maryland $5.5 billion in value-added to the state’s economy annually while supplying approximately 69,337 jobs for residents. Executive Director Anthony noted that the act reflected a host of favorable conditions developing in the right place at the right time, including a partnership with the state’s executive branch. Governor Hogan recognizes the value of outdoor recreation and the need to have this opportunity available for the citizens of Maryland for their overall quality of life,” said Anthony. 

After this significant policy victory, what’s next? Both Executive Director Anthony and Western Region Manager Bright say there are other needs and opportunities they will be focused on: growing public and private investment in green technologies to improve access, updating recreation amenities like campgrounds, and further improving the user experience. Finally, Bright points out that the vitality of the outdoor economy and Marylanders themselves rely on the health of the natural assets across the state. Traditional conservation efforts are still front-of-mind for the DNR, including a continued focus on the protection of the Chesapeake Bay.  

We at OIA are big fans of the Great Maryland Outdoors Act. State parks across the country are chronically underfunded even while seeing notable traffic increases. Our industry can utilize our collective voice to address this issue over the coming years.  

Ready to learn how you can advocate on behalf of increased investment in parks, green infrastructure, and recreation amenities? Contact Rebecca Gillis, OIA’s State and Local Government Affairs Manager, to learn more about the tools OIA offers to our members to step up and call on elected officials to strengthen the outdoors and outdoor economy.

OIA + CORP Virtual Sacramento Summit 2022

Watch on-demand: California Outdoor Recreation Partnership and Outdoor Industry Association’s 5th Sacramento Summit!

 

The California Outdoor Recreation Partnership, with support from Outdoor Industry Association, was pleased to host the 5th Sacramento Summit for outdoor recreation policy. From May 23-25, hundreds of outdoor recreation enthusiasts participated in our Sacramento Summit. Businesses and organizations met for a virtual advocacy day to hear from state policymakers, legislators, and decision-makers. Summit participants engaged in and drove conversation to protect public lands and advocate for equitable access, environmental justice, climate resilience including the 30×30 initiative, and outdoor recreation infrastructure.

Summit Objectives

  • Advocate for equitable access, climate resiliency, and funding for outdoor recreation infrastructure.
  • Connect the California outdoor recreation community with stakeholders, state agency leaders and key legislative members and continue to build state-level government relationships.
  • Networking opportunities for members.

Advocacy Day Program: 8 am – 12 pm on Monday, May 23, 2022

Lobby Meetings: Monday, May 23 – Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Advocacy Day Activities:

  • Remarks from Policymakers and Outdoor Recreation Advocates
  • Meetings with state-level policymakers and agency officials
  • Coffee Networking Event
  • Happy Hour Networking Event

Special thanks to The North Face and REI for their support of our work at California Outdoor Recreation Partnership.