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Outdoor Rec Seeks Assistance from Capitol Hill

Dry Tortugas National Park.

Dry Tortugas National Park.

More than 100 outdoor recreation companies are rallying the House to pass the Great American Outdoors Act, a bill that passed the Senate last month with bipartisan support.

“As outdoor recreation business leaders, we know investments in recreation access and infrastructure are vital to the outdoor recreation industry and economies across the country,” wrote the coalition that included big players including Bass Pro Shops, Boat Owners Association of the United States, Brunswick Corp., Correct Craft, Formula, Malibu Boats Inc., Marine Products Corp., Maverick Boat Group, Polaris, Volvo Penta of the Americas and Yamaha.

Companies from all sectors of the marine industry signed the letter addressed to Reps. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, the outdoor recreation industry contributed $778 billion in economic output, accounted for 2.2 percent of U.S. Gross Domestic Product, supported 5.2 million jobs and was growing faster than the economy as a whole in every indicator, the letter said.

“Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and shutdowns necessary to slow its progression, America’s outdoor recreation economy was hindered when we needed the outdoors more than ever,” wrote the coalition. “Outdoor Recreation Roundtable’s May survey of the sector shows that 88 percent of outdoor businesses have had to lay off or furlough employees, and 94 percent are seeing decreased revenue.”

The revenue that comes to the government for oil and gas exploration — up to $1.9 billion per year — was always intended to fund national parks maintenance projects, but often gets diverted for other congressional priorities.

“GAOA dedicates up to $9.5 billion over the next five years to maintenance backlog projects that have been devastating our public lands and waters,” stated the letter. “Investing in these projects will improve outdoor recreation-related facilities such as docks, restrooms, campgrounds, trails, roads and more that have deteriorated significantly from decades of underfunded maintenance.”

Dealers including Clark Marine, Hagadone Marine Group, Galati Yacht Sales, and Port Harbor Marine signed the letter; fishing brands St. Croix Rods and Rapala were also included, as well as component manufacturers such as Magic Tilt Trailers.

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