2020 Voters Guide


The Impact of the 2020 Elections on the Outdoor Industry

Strength in Numbers
The numbers speak for themselves. The outdoor industry employs more than 7.6 million Americans, generates more than $778 billion in consumer spending and accounts for 2 percent of the United States GDP. Despite this, a recent poll by Conservation Alliance reports that 24.6 million outdoorists may not vote in the upcoming election. Together, we can change that statistic and increase outdoor participation, preserve public lands and waters, lower costs for outdoor businesses, help advance sustainable business practices and shape public policy.

Industry Issues

We urge the next administration and Congress to take bold, robust and ongoing action on climate, public lands and waters and trade at the federal level in order to ensure thriving communities, thriving outdoor businesses and a thriving planet.

Climate Change
Climate change is already causing disruption and financial harm to outdoor businesses – and the local, state and national economies that rely on our industry’s job creation and tax revenue. Therefore, we urge Congress and the next administration to:

  • Incentivizing businesses to take bold action to reverse the climate crisis
  • Preserve our nation’s lands and waters as natural climate solutions
  • Invest in parks and paths to help build low-carbon, climate resilient communities
  • Accelerate our nation’s transition to renewable energy

Public Lands and Waters
The outdoor recreation economy depends on abundant, safe and welcoming public lands and waters. The health of individuals, communities, and our economy is tied to opportunities for everyone to experience the benefits of parks, trails and open spaces. We urge Congress and the next administration to:

  • Make public lands and waters a cornerstone of economic recovery by making public lands an essential part of individual and community health and new investments in recreation and green infrastructure, including Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and close-to-home recreation
  • Conserve public lands and waters
  • Make the outdoors accessible, equitable, welcoming and safe for everyone regardless of geography, income or prior experience for all Americans
  • Protect core conservation laws and reverse regulatory rollbacks
  • Protecting core conservation laws and reverse regulatory rollbacks

Balanced Trade
A stable and predictable federal trade policy is critical to helping outdoor companies lower costs, create U.S. jobs and fuel innovation. Consistent with a balanced trade policy that supports global value chains and domestic manufacturers, we urge Congress and the next administration to:

  • Conclude an agreement with China that protects U.S. IP and lifts all punitive tariffs
  • Rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and pursue new bilateral and multilateral trade deals
  • Renew and Expand the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) and Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB) process
  • Prioritize sustainable trade initiatives
  • Develop a North American supply chain for PPEs

Endorsement Criteria

We support candidates running for elected office in the United States who meet the following criteria:

  • Outdoor Recreation Economy: Recognize the size, scope and impact of the outdoor recreation economy in their respective districts and states as well as at the federal level; legislate and vote in a manner that supports the $887 billion in consumer spending and 7.6 million sustainable American jobs generated by the outdoor recreation economy
  • Conservation: Stand up for the conservation of state and federal public lands and waters; fight for conservation and infrastructure funding; work to make the outdoors accessible to everyone
  • Trade: Support balanced trade initiatives that relieve outdoor businesses of disproportionately high import taxes; support businesses that manufacture their products domestically; support policies that promote sustainable products and supply chains
  • Climate: Acknowledge the threat of climate change to our public lands and waters and to the outdoor recreation economy; support policies that seek to mitigate the effects of global warming

While our focus remains on how well each candidate’s priorities matches those of the outdoor industry, we encourage you to do your own research into these races, reading all aspects of a candidate’s policy platform on their website to better inform your vote.

Watchworthy Races

We’ve selected 19 races to watch, which not only affect local constituents but could also impact federal and state outdoor recreation policies. We’ve highlighted nine official OIA endorsements for the candidates we feel will make a difference in how policy related to the outdoor recreation economy is shaped on the local and national levels.


President Donald Trump

Joe Biden

This is one of the most consequential elections in years. President Trump shrank national monuments, withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement and rolled back regulatory measures aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. He placed punitive tariffs on outdoor products sourced from China and withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. However, in support of our industry, he signed the Great American Outdoors Act into law and negotiated the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

Former Vice President Joe Biden’s plan for rural America cites the outdoors as a reason to invest in rural communities for economic recovery. His campaign recognizes climate change and how its impacts to our health and communities are completely connected to our economy. The campaign calls for a 100 percent clean energy economy and net-zero emissions by 2050; infrastructure investment to ensure climate resilience; and work to protect vulnerable urban and rural communities from the impacts of industrial pollution on air, land and water. On trade, Biden will emphasize domestic manufacturing while still pursuing a more multilateral approach with our trading partners, in contrast to Trump’s “America First” agenda. While Biden was a part of the Obama administration that negotiated TPP, he stated during this year’s primaries that he would re-negotiate the agreement as part of an effort with TPP nations to address issues with China.














Colorado 2nd Congressional District

Idaho 2nd Congressional District

New Mexico 1st Congressional District

New York 24th Congressional District

Oregon 1st Congressional District

Oregon 3rd Congressional District

Ohio 15th Congressional District

Pennsylvania 1st Congressional District

Washington 1st Congressional District

State and Local Ballot Measures

Over the last two election cycles, more than $5 billion in funding for conservation and recreation efforts at the state and local levels has been approved by voters. Here’s a snapshot of some of the measures that will be on the 2020 ballot.

Denver Sales Tax for Climate

Voters in Denver will consider a measure to increase the sales tax by 0.25 percent to mitigate impacts of climate change. The measure could generate as much as $36 million a year, with funding allocated to multi-modal transportation initiatives, incentivizing renewable energy use and retrofitting buildings to emit fewer greenhouse gasses.

Colorado River District Mill Levy

Voters in a 15-county region of Colorado (Grand, Summit, Eagle, Pitkin, Garfield, Routt, Moffat, Rio Blanco, Mesa, Delta, Ouray and Gunnison counties and parts of Montrose, Saguache and Hinsdale counties) that form the Colorado River District will be asked to raise the property taxes at a rate of $1.90 per year per assessed $100,000 of residential value (median = $7.03) to support work related to the following:

  • Protecting sustainable drinking water supplies for Western Slope communities
  • Protecting fish, wildlife and recreation by maintaining river levels
  • Fighting to keep water on the Western Slope
  • Protecting adequate water supplies for Western Slope farmers and ranchers

If passed, the measure would generate $4.2 million dedicated to projects in the Colorado River District that focus on productive agriculture; infrastructure; watershed health; and water quality, conservation and efficiency.

Michigan Use of State and Local Parks Funds Amendment

A measure on the ballot in Michigan proposes changes to how the state’s park-related funds can be allocated. The Natural Resources Trust Fund (NRTF), which receives revenue from mineral, oil and gas fees, is currently capped at $500 million and does not allow more than 25 percent of each year’s funding to be spent on local parks.

A yes vote on the amendment will require 25 percent of each year’s NRTF funding to be spent on local parks.

Additionally, revenue from extractive fees above the NRTF cap is allocated to the State Parks Endowment Fund, which currently has about $300 million. The amendment proposes removing the $500 million cap for the NRTF only when the State Parks Endowment Fund reaches $800 million.

Portland (Oregon) 5-Year Mill Levy

Voters in Portland, Oregon, will see a measure on their November ballots to place a 5-year mill levy of $0.80 per $1000 of assessed value to fund the city’s park system. If passed, the measure would generate an estimated $48 million per year and cost the average household $11 per month.