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ABC 2018: Big names at this year’s American Boating Congress

WASHINGTON D.C. — U.S. Interior secretary Ryan Zinke, Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt, Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace, and several members of Congress were among the speaker lineup at the American Boating Congress and Center Focus on Washington last week.

The boating and fishing industry events are designed to tackle challenges including workforce shortages, saltwater fishing regulations, aluminum tariffs and ethanol blends in fuel supplies.

During his speech, Zinke named Correct Craft CEO Bill Yeargin to as a member of board at the newly-developed Made in America Advisory Committee.

“We brought in Made in America advisory board, because Made in America’s important,” said Zinke on Friday at a farewell and awards lunch. “If we’re serious about recreation, then things being made in America, and the jobs behind it, is a juggernaut.”

The committee didn’t have boating represented on it prior to Yeargin’s appointment, Zinke said.

Zinke also outlined his vision for developing public-private partnerships at U.S. national parks.

             Interior secretary Ryan Zinke named Bill Yeargin to the Made in America Advisory Committee

Interior secretary Ryan Zinke named Bill Yeargin to the Made in America Advisory Committee

“Public-private partnerships are what the park system does,” Zinke said. “Rangers don’t flip burgers, they don’t run hotels. Public-private partnerships have for long been in existence on public lands. There are some areas where think we can get better. I think for running a dock system, there’s no reason why we can’t partner with a local boating entity.”

There is an $11.7 billion backlog of maintenance at public parks, he said.

“It’s tough for me to build new facilities when we’re tasked with maintaining the old, said Zinke.

Because many are so outdated, campgrounds are designed to accommodate a station wagon and a tent, not RVs and campers as they are designed today, Zinke said.

“A lot of our ramps and launching facilities aren’t configured for how people boat today,” said Zinke. “There’s a lot that can be done by boating advocates in public private partnership that’s consistent with the mission. It’s not a free-for-all. It will be consistent with what parks are supposed to be.”

Wallace discussed covering the White House while President Trump is engaged in “the most direct assault on American press” that he has witnessed.

“Last year Trump tweeted about fake news more than 150 times,” Wallace said, pointing specifically to the tweet that called the “failing U.S. media … the enemy of the American people.”

Despite this, Wallace said “even hypochondriacs sometimes get sick.”

“Here’s what I think is going on,” Wallace said. “I think this president has gone so far over the line, the press feels it has been given leeway to push back, and I think that’s a big mistake.”

When such attacks occur, it’s important for the press to stand together, Wallace said.

Pruitt discussed the role of the EPA and its effects on the boating industry, touching on air emissions, fuel policy and environmental stewardship.

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