Conservation

ATA Joins Senior Administration Officials to Discuss Recreation Improvements

ATA President/CEO Jay McAninch is pictured with Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, members of the Outdoor Recreation Industry Roundtable and senior administration officials.
Photo Credit: Tami Heilemann

Author: Teresa Johnson

Senior officials from the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) and U.S. Forest Service met with more than 30 representatives of the outdoor recreation industry, including ATA President/CEO Jay McAninch and Jas. D. Easton, Inc. CFO and Vice President, Daren Cottle, at Shenandoah National Park April 24 to discuss improving visitor experiences on America’s public lands and waters.  The meeting was hosted by the Outdoor Recreation Industry Roundtable (ORIR) at Skyland Resort – operated by National Park concessioner Delaware North.

McAninch also represented the ATA’s members in a meeting with Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke on Monday evening, discussing the impact of the recreation industry as it relates to creating sustainable opportunities for people to enjoy the outdoors, including activities like bowhunting and archery.

The ATA is part of a group called the Outdoor Recreation Industry Roundtable, pictured here meeting with Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke on April 24.

According to the American Sportfishing Association’s press release, Secretary Zinke provided an overview of his design for a major departmental reorganization, which he described as the “biggest in 100 years,” which reflects the visions of legendary outdoorsmen John Muir and Gifford Pinchot. The reorganization will unite all federal lands around key ecosystems. He told the group that the reorganization will reflect recreation’s large and growing role in public land and water management and substantially boost on-the-ground manpower.

The wide-ranging discussion included plans for ongoing cooperation and collaboration, including the development of sites for innovative, partner-based recreation expansion on federal lands. The Secretary invited the ORIR to return with a list of at least ten sites within 60 days.

The meeting concluded with conversations about how ORIR and the recreation community could support the Secretary’s efforts, including the reorganization. The Secretary is eager to enlist the recreation community and recognizes the opportunities for use of channels ranging from trade and consumer shows to retail locations to social media sites and recreation print and electronic publications, according to the ASA.

The Outdoor Recreation Industry Roundtable is a coalition of America’s leading outdoor recreation trade associations. ORIR representatives joined forces this year to promote policy and legislative reforms that help grow outdoor recreation’s substantial economy.

Outdoor recreation is big business, generating $887 billion in direct spending and supporting 7.6+ million jobs across all 50 states.  At Skyland Resort, ORIR members, key recreation company CEOs and senior administration officials discussed how improved infrastructure and increased opportunities for innovation and public-private partnerships will give more people the chance to enjoy healthy, active fun on their public lands and waters, while helping outdoor recreation continue to grow as a powerful and positive force in America.

“Access to recreation opportunities on Federal lands is critical for the long-term sustainability of our industry,” McAninch commented. “By teaming up with the ORIR and other outdoor trade organizations, the ATA strengthens its ability to advocate for our industry and the access needed to keep people using bows and arrows for many years to come.”

DOI Senior White House Advisor Doug Domenech outlined key goals and challenges, and emphasized the need to expand access on public lands and waters, saying, “the Roosevelt Arch says, ‘For the benefit and enjoyment of the people,’ and bringing people back to the equation is clearly an important issue.”

Meeting participants identified access as a crucial area where the private sector can help federal partners improve visitor experiences in the great outdoors.  They discussed the negative impact of access restrictions and the value of adopting practices to help enhance access to public lands and waters, including a “yes first” mentality, the streamlining of permitting processes, and closer management partnerships with state fish and wildlife agencies and the recreation industry.

ATA's President/CEO Jay McAninch (far right) represented the ATA’s members in a meeting with Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke on Monday evening, discussing the impact of the recreation industry as it relates to creating sustainable opportunities for people to enjoy the outdoors, including activities like bowhunting and archery.

Participants also discussed the importance of providing visitors with world-class experiences in these world-class places, and the role private industry can play in upgrading facilities, increasing connectivity, implementing electronic passes, modernizing campsites, developing access for hunting and fishing, creating new recreation opportunities such as shooting, and more.

“It was a privilege to be included in the ORIR’s discussions with DOI and Forest Service officials,” Cottle said. “We at Easton, Hoyt and the Easton Foundations feel a responsibility to join the ATA and the broader outdoor recreation industry to engage with government agencies to help improve and expand outdoor recreation. With the ORIR now in place, we can be a unified force to help move the outdoor recreation needle in a more positive direction. It is also encouraging that the archery industry has a seat at the table.”

Industry members offered their ideas on reducing the multi-billion-dollar maintenance backlog plaguing the public lands.  Suggestions included longer concessions contracts, extended service hours and seasons, restructured fee retention, reduced barriers to private investment, more efficient fee collection and a reassessment of backlog needs.

“Our ORIR team agreed to create project proposals for 10 sites within the next 60 days, which means we have to walk the talk, just like Secretary Zinke has done,” McAninch explained. “Public-private partnerships are key to making those experiences positive, shareable ones that will keep people excited about visiting the great outdoors, and enjoying activities like archery and bowhunting.”

 

Senior officials from the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) and U.S. Forest Service met with more than 30 representatives of the outdoor recreation industry, including ATA President/CEO Jay McAninch and Jas. D. Easton, Inc. CFO and Vice President, Daren Cottle, at Shenandoah National Park April 24 to discuss improving visitor experiences on America’s public lands and waters. 

 

The recreation industry representatives emphasized their commitment to helping DOI overcome its current challenges.  Providing support for DOI funding in the FY2018 budget, encouraging a Recreation Title in upcoming infrastructure legislation and prioritizing the REC Act were just some of the ideas offered during the discussion. They also discussed how public-private partnerships can help promote awareness and support for America’s outdoors by capitalizing on industry efforts like Explore Bowhunting, Go RVing, Discover Boating and TakeMeFishing to spread the word about great opportunities on public lands and waters.  ORIR members noted that their trade shows  — the eight largest recreation trade shows in the country, including the ATA Trade Show — would provide a perfect opportunity to enhance communications between DOI and the nation’s recreation community.

“There is extraordinary opportunity,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, Recreation Vehicle Industry Association President and an ORIR member.  “Never before has an industry coalition with all outdoor recreation sectors come together with a unified voice to offer its assistance in improving visitor experiences on America’s public land and waters.  Our great outdoors are a unifying force in an era of political divisions, and the outdoor recreation industry stands ready to join forces with Secretary Zinke and the Department of the Interior in providing healthy, active outdoor fun in America’s great outdoors.”

 

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