Author: Patrick Durkin
The Archery Trade Association applauded President Obama for signing the Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact Act into law Dec. 8 after the bipartisan bill passed the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives on unanimous votes in late November.
The REC Act, which is now public law 114-249, directs the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis to assess and analyze the nation’s outdoor recreation economy and its impact on the U.S. economy. The bill was written earlier this year after two years of cooperative effort by the Outdoor Recreational Industry Roundtable, a group of 14 outdoor industries that includes the ATA. The Roundtable formed to ensure state and federal governments recognize the breadth and importance of outdoor recreation to the nation’s economy.
“Passing the REC Act is very important to bowhunting, archery and the shooting sports because it recognizes outdoor recreation is a vital – not just important – part of the U.S. economy,” said Jay McAninch, ATA CEO/president. “Collectively, the outdoor sports industries represent close to $650 billion in value in economic activity. That’s a huge contribution to the U.S. gross domestic product.”
McAninch said this new law directs the U.S. Department of Commerce and federal land-management agencies to track and provide statistics on how the entire outdoor industry – including bowhunting and archery – contributes to our national economy. “It’s a no-brainer,” McAninch said. “That’s why it passed Capitol Hill unanimously and why President Obama signed it into law.”
The REC Act directs the U.S. Department of Commerce and federal land-management agencies to track and provide statistics on how the entire outdoor industry – including bowhunting and archery – contributes to our national economy. Photo Credit: ATA
McAninch said when economists and the Federal Reserve make assessments and predictions about the U.S. economy, they study factors such as the stock market, manufacturing activity, inventory levels, retail sales, building permits, the housing market, unemployment rates and the consumer price index. The REC Act ensures the economic impacts generated by outdoor recreation become part of those equations.
“This law basically acknowledges the fact that outdoor industries are vital to the American way of life and our economic well-being,” McAninch said. “These are very real industries providing the same benefits and confronting the same challenges as industries in other sectors of the economy. We all deal with factors like labor costs, health care, counterfeiting, supply chains and fair pricing. The REC Act makes us an official part of the U.S. economy.
“By tracking our collective economic impacts, we can present hard, factual data that show why our concerns and priorities matter,” McAninch continued. “No one can ever again say we’re just pulling numbers out of the air. We’ll be able to back up our claims with data no one can question. The government will know the actual economic impacts of archery and bowhunting when it calculates the country’s gross domestic product.”
McAninch said the law also recognizes that outdoor recreation is a viable economic engine on public lands. “Until now, the feds only recognized industries such as mining, timber and agriculture when calculating the public lands’ economic contributions to our economy,” he said. “We’ve always known that’s an incomplete calculation. By recognizing the importance of outdoor recreation on public lands, federal agencies can make better-informed decisions when authorizing programs and management plans for public lands.”
By recognizing the importance of outdoor recreation on public lands, federal agencies can make better-informed decisions when authorizing programs and management plans for public lands. Photo Credit: John Hafner
One impact of the new law is that it will now be possible to assess the economic impacts of wildlife diseases on deer, land values and bowhunting. Chronic wasting disease, for example, is now present in 23 states, and steadily worsening in several deer populations. In addition, the law will help the archery industry address increased attempts to close shooting ranges on public lands.
“By knowing the economic impact of bowhunters and archers in outdoor recreation, we can make accurate dollars-and-cents arguments for maintaining hunting and shooting opportunities, which enhance the value of those lands,” McAninch said. “By discussing bowhunting and archery in terms comparable to other economic interests, we bring legitimacy to what we do and how we recreate because we’re talking in terms everyone understands. This law is a gratifying achievement for our industry, bowhunters, archers and everyone involved in our sports.”
Likewise, the Outdoor Recreational Industry Roundtable pools the outdoors industries’ collective strength to work more effectively with state and federal agencies. “This bodes well for our industries down the road as we deal with issues like access to public lands, long-term conservation funding, and funding to manage wildlife habitats,” McAninch said.
In addition to the ATA, other industry groups in the Roundtable are the American Sportfishing Association, National Marine Manufacturers Association, International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association, The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association, Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association, Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association, National Shooting Sports Foundation, Specialty Vehicle Institute of America, American Recreation Coalition, Motorcycle Industry Council, Outdoor Industry Association, American Horse Council, and the National Park Hospitality Association.
The Roundtable is also working with President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team to outline how the Federal government, as well as state governments, can partner with the outdoor recreation industry to promote and advance their businesses. The group has strategies for economic growth and job creation, advancing conservation efforts that build healthier lives and stronger families, and protecting public lands and waters while providing access for all Americans.