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? 

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.

Advocating on Earth Day: State and Local Policy Updates

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 inspires our members and fellow outdoorists to continue advocating for impactful policy on our planet’s behalf.  



In late March of 2022, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer celebrated the Building Michigan Together Plan. The $5 billion bipartisan plan is a blueprint for major investments to improve and modernize the state’s infrastructure.  

The plan will have major implications throughout the state. We were excited to see that the governor outlined a planned $450 million investment in state parks. Of the total, $250 million will be allocated to state parks, including the development of a new state park in Flint, MI. An additional $200 million will go toward improving and developing local park systems throughout the state. Governor Whitmer’s administration noted that these investments will benefit the state’s outdoor recreation industry and will attract increased tourism to Michigan. Click here to learn more about these important investments. 



Late last year, California Governor Gavin Newsom’s administration made some exciting announcements to kick off 2022. Alongside California Secretary for Natural Resources Wade Crowfoot, the governor outlined $548.3 million in state grant funding to develop new parks in more than 100 communities throughout California. The press conference was part of a kick-off for the California “Outdoors for All” initiative, which will be led by Katherine Toy, the new and first-ever Deputy Secretary for Access at CNRA. US Secretary of the Department of the Interior, Deb Haaland, joined attendees for the launch of the initiative.   

Learn more about the California Outdoors for All initiative and the catalytic investments here 



In March 2022, the Maryland General Assembly passed the Great Maryland Outdoors Act (MD SB541). The bill was written partially in response to increasing visitor use seen throughout the pandemic, as well as growing need for resources to address deferred maintenance throughout the state. The legislation will provide increased funding for the state’s park system, the creation of new parks, and better access to existing parks. 

The Great Maryland Outdoors Act will play a major role in, “addressing infrastructure, capacity, and accessibility needs within the Maryland Park Service and State parks,” and “increasing the number of Maryland Park Service full-time employees,” and finally, requiring the state’s Department of Natural Resources to make considerations “relating to the accessibility, inclusivity, safety, and location of State parks.” The law also establishes the Great Maryland Outdoors Fund to provide funding related to outdoor recreation in the state.     

Read the final version of the bipartisan bill here.   



Washington recently saw the creation of a statewide outdoor school program via a bipartisan bill, Establishing the outdoor school for all program (WA HB 2078). Ten million dollars in funding allocated from the state’s general fund will be used to administer an outdoor learning grant program supporting outdoor educational experiences throughout the state’s public schools. Washington youth in the fifth and sixth grades will be able to attend outdoor school starting as soon as the 2022-2023 academic year.  

The program will be administered by the state’s Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. The office will allocate grants to eligible school districts and outdoor school providers, and will also partner with other relevant state agencies to carry out implementation.  

Governor Jay Inslee said, “This is an important opportunity for our kids to experience quality instructional time outdoors, and it may even inspire them to pursue exciting careers in earth science and land management, which will help prepare our state for the challenges of climate change.” 


 Interested in learning more about our government affairs work on the state and local level? Read more here.