Outside Business Journal

New report details outdoor industry advocacy wins of 2021

A paper released this week by Outdoor Recreation Roundtable shows the outdoor industry made notable strides in advocacy, government partnerships, and DEI efforts last year

Bella Wilkes

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On February 9, Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR), the nation’s leading coalition of outdoor recreation trade associations, released its 2021 Annual Report detailing the year’s biggest advocacy wins in the outdoor space. 

According to the report, last year saw several major accomplishments for the industry, including an increase in public-private partnerships, a solidifying of the industry’s economic might, and continued promotion of equity in outdoors spaces. 

Promoting public-private partnerships

Federal and state agency partnerships were key to progress last year, according to the report, as the outdoor industry continues to strengthen its position as a force for political change. 

“One of ORR’s goals is to be better partners to the federal agencies by bringing our collective voice to important issues with clear policy objectives and win-win scenarios that make the recreation pie bigger,” the report says.

Partners Outdoors, ORR’s annual conference aimed at bringing outdoor business leaders together, had its highest attendance in decades, hosting key figures like Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and BLM Acting Director Nada Culver.

The group also communicated directly with the leaders in Washington D.C., presenting its ideas for a successful implementation of the Biden Administration’s America the Beautiful (AtB) Initiative on an interagency call with the White House. According to the report, this access to senior White House officials allowed ORR to play an “active role” in the rollout of AtB, which calls on lawmakers to help conserve at least 30 percent of the nation’s lands and waters by 2030.

Expanding access to the outdoors

Another key area of growth emphasized in the report was the expansion of the outdoor economy in rural communities. Last year, ORR launched its Rural Economic Development Toolkit to help bolster local outdoor economies through data collection and education. The office established a direct-grant program to build upon that effort, providing $20,000 to five communities for local developments: John Day, Ore.; Glenwood Springs, Colo.; Grants, N.M.; Jasper, Ala.; and Freyburg, Maine. 

ORR also partnered with RV manufacturer THOR Industries, whose subsidiaries include Airstream and Heartland, to establish Together Outdoors, a coalition working to make outdoor recreation more accessible to—and representative of—diverse communities. Through the development of educational programs, partnerships, and action by the group’s governance and advisory councils, the initiative will work to overcome systemic barriers to the outdoors for marginalized communities. 

Plans for 2022 

Looking ahead, ORR President Jessica Turner said in a release that the coalition projects another critical year for growth in 2022. 

Says Turner, “The ORR team is enthusiastic about building out the next important growth phase of the organization with emphasis on industry thought leadership and convenings, ensuring recognition of the recreation economy, and policy developments at all levels that support a healthy business environment and recreation economy for the benefit of all Americans.”

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