ORR’s Wahl-Turner Op-Ed on Outdoor Recreation Funding – RVBusiness – Breaking RV Industry News

Jessica Wahl Turner

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR) President Jessica Turner published an op-ed highlighting the pressing need for innovative solutions to ensure sustainable funding for the $1.1 trillion recreation economy and the millions of Americans and communities who rely on it, according to an ORR release.

ORR recently released “Recreation Funding in America: Current Results and Future Insights,”  a comprehensive study conducted by Southwick Associates, Inc. on behalf of ORR that aggregates and analyzes current federal funding streams for outdoor recreation and identifies potential future threats to these funding sources including changing energy demands, evolving participation, inflation, climate change, and stagnant appropriations trends. The full technical report with new graphics, tables, key insights, and data sources is now available online.

In response to the findings of the report, ORR is underscoring potential solutions including increasing support for recreation in the federal budget, establishing a White House Commission on Outdoor Recreation, passing the Expanding Public Lands Outdoor Recreation Experiences (EXPLORE) Act, initiatives to welcome and support new recreation participants, and new spending models to address the growing funding challenges for our nation’s critical outdoor places, programs, and over 5 million Americans who work in outdoor recreation.

The Future of Outdoor Recreation Funding in America Is at Risk

By ORR President, Jessica Wahl Turner, published by DC Journal (June 25, 2024)

As June ushered in Great Outdoors Month and Americans headed outside in droves to enjoy the country’s natural beauty, we must confront a critical issue that threatens the future of outdoor recreation: How do we collectively fund a sustainable and quality outdoors experience? 

The Outdoor Recreation Roundtable’s latest report, “Recreation Funding in America: Current Results and Future Insights,” highlights the challenges and opportunities for the outdoor recreation economy.

Recent data from the Department of Commerce underscores the importance of this industry. In 2022, outdoor recreation generated $1.1 trillion in gross output and supported 5 million jobs, comprising 2.2 percent of the nation’s economy and 3.2 percent of all U.S. employees. This sector is growing 2.5 times faster than the economy as a whole. Leading companies across the outdoor industry’s top segments are determined to think long-term, big-picture, and proactively to ensure this thriving economic sector continues to support future generations and communities.

One key finding from the report is that outdoor recreation, which contributes 2.2 percent to U.S. GDP, receives only 0.16 percent of federal funding. This nearly 14-fold difference underscores the need for a substantial increase in government support. 

Over the last 20 years, while the federal budget grew by 76 percent, spending on outdoor recreation increased by just 22 percent. The majority of federal outdoor recreation spending comes from sources outside general revenue, such as fossil fuel taxes, recreation fees, excise taxes and other receipts. This reliance on diverse revenue streams makes the sector vulnerable to trends like inflation, energy transitions and climate change. Policymakers, industry leaders and the public must act on these findings to ensure the sustainability of this vital sector.

Healthy recreation economies contribute to more than just the national and rural economies. They sustain healthy people, jobs, communities, and our shared natural resources. Public lands and waters are the backbone of this sector, and funding for these places is essential, now and in the future. However, the new report reveals a significant spending gap that could undermine this critical sector. The report emphasizes that the spending gap could be as large as $34 billion by 2042. This gap, if not addressed, could significantly affect an industry core to the American experience, economy and quality of life.

To address these challenges, the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable and its members are committed to advocating for increased federal investment in outdoor recreation just as appropriators are discussing agency budgets. We are committed to working with elected leaders and our private-sector leadership to develop comprehensive, long-term solutions. 

Additionally, the passage of the EXPLORE Act in the Senate, which has no cost but provides updated recreation planning and smart policy, is crucial. This legislation will help make dollars go further and support our industry’s growth; the measure has passed the House.

Adequate investment and smart policy are crucial for the outdoor recreation industry to operate and sustain itself and all who rely on it because when our industry is healthy, so are people, communities, economies and the planet. 

This report marks the beginning of an essential conversation about the future of America’s outdoor legacy and economy. Let’s work together now to ensure that the beauty and benefits of outdoor recreation are available to all for generations.

Source: https://rvbusiness.com/orrs-wahl-turner-op-ed-on-outdoor-recreation-funding/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=orrs-wahl-turner-op-ed-on-outdoor-recreation-funding