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NMMA meets with Interior Department officials

The meeting that was held Monday is expected to be the first in a series of official meetings.
Nicole Vasilaros, vice president of federal and legal affairs for the National Marine Manufacturers Association (fourth from right), participates in an Outdoor Recreation Industry Roundtable meeting on Monday with the federal Department of the Interior.

Nicole Vasilaros, vice president of federal and legal affairs for the National Marine Manufacturers Association (fourth from right), participates in an Outdoor Recreation Industry Roundtable meeting on Monday with the federal Department of the Interior.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association met with senior officials from the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Forest Service as part of the Outdoor Recreation Industry Roundtable.

The meeting that was held Monday is expected to be the first in a series of official meetings to address boating and outdoor recreation expansion and improvements.

It’s the first time that a group of outdoor recreation interests have come together at this level, presenting a united front on key issues impacting the collective industry, according to the NMMA, which was represented by NMMA federal and legal affairs vice president Nicole Vasilaros.

Participants discussed the negative impact of access restrictions and the value of adopting and prioritizing practices that help enhance access to public lands and waters, including the streamlining of permitting processes and closer management partnerships with state fish and wildlife agencies and the outdoor recreation industry.

Interior Department senior White House adviser Doug Domenech outlined key goals and challenges and emphasized the need to expand access on public lands and waters.

“The Roosevelt Arch says, ‘For the benefit and enjoyment of the people,’ and bringing people back to the equation is clearly an important issue,” Domenech said during the meeting, according to a statement.

From left are Simmis Fishing president KC Walsh; American Sportfishing Association president Mike Nussman; Vasilaros; National Park Service acting director Mike Reynolds; Interior Department senior White House adviser Doug Domenech; Bass Pro Shops corporate and public affairs director Martin MacDonald; Safe Harbor Marinas co-founder Marshall Funk; and BoatUS vice president Chris Edmonston. Vasilaros said those shown are only a small group of those who attended the meeting.

From left are Simmis Fishing president KC Walsh; American Sportfishing Association president Mike Nussman; Vasilaros; National Park Service acting director Mike Reynolds; Interior Department senior White House adviser Doug Domenech; Bass Pro Shops corporate and public affairs director Martin MacDonald; Safe Harbor Marinas co-founder Marshall Funk; and BoatUS vice president Chris Edmonston. Vasilaros said those shown are only a small group of those who attended the meeting.

Outdoor recreation industry representatives emphasized their commitment to helping the Interior Department overcome its challenges.

Providing support for Interior Department funding in the fiscal 2018 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 Discover Boating, Go RVing, and Take Me Fishing to spread the word about opportunities on public lands and waters.

“The recreational boating industry, and outdoor recreation as a whole, must have improved physical infrastructure and access, and also systems and services in place that will contribute to our nation’s boaters and recreationists having a positive experience, one worth repeating,” Vasilaros said.

“Our discussions today were a positive step forward in rebalancing the needs of conservation and visitor access to public lands and waterways, and we look forward to continuing work with the Department of Interior and administration on finding solutions that benefit the U.S. economy, our communities and outdoor recreation,” Vasilaros said.

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