The politics behind celebrating the outdoors

April 25, 2016

Katy Hartnett, director of goverment relations

Image: David French

Spring has finally sprung and the warmer weather makes us want to get out of the house to hike, bike and camp, among other activities. But outdoor recreation wouldn’t be as accessible and fantastic as it is if not for the work being done in Washington D.C. by our allies in the outdoor industry. Here are three examples of the politics behind the great outdoors.

Outdoor economics

On Tuesday April 19, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced that the federal government will measure outdoor recreation economy statistics similarly to how they evaluate other sectors of the U.S. economy. Quanitifying the economic benefits of outdoor recreation will demonstrate that investing in recreational infrastructure leads to healthy businesses and communities. A bipartisan group of members of the House and the Senate have introduced legislation, the REC Act, to make this study recurring and not just a one-time calculation.

Image: Moyan Brenn

Land ho

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is one of the primary federal programs that conserves public land and improves recreational opportunities in communities across the country. A long-term reauthorization of LWCF is critical to creating great recreational opportunities, including bicycling. The Senate has passed legislation to permanently extend the LWCF. The next step for the legislation is to reconcile differences with a House-passed version of the bill.

100 years and counting

This year marks the centennial of the National Park Service, which anticipates record visitation in 2016 after hosting more than 305 million visitors last year. NPS is also dealing with a large maintenance backlog. The National Park Service Centennial Act has been introduced in Congress to make essential federal funding investments and leverage private dollars to assure that our parks remain enjoyable for generations to come.

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