Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and members of Congress met with the Outdoor Recreation Industry Roundtable at the Interior Department on Tuesday to discuss how public-private partnerships can improve visitor experiences on public lands and waters.
The meeting was followed by a showcase of American-made outdoor recreation equipment — including boats, RVs, off-road vehicles and fishing gear — as part of “Made in America Week” in Washington, D.C.
National Marine Manufacturers Association president Thom Dammrich, an ORIR member, opened the meeting by introducing almost 30 opportunities for immediate private investment on public lands totaling more than $80 million.
That was the first wave of potentially thousands more opportunities that will emerge during the next few months if changes can be made to welcome more private investment to enhance recreational experiences on public lands.
“Secretary Zinke’s support of public-private partnerships will help expand access to public lands for outdoor recreation, update recreation sites and reduce the maintenance backlog within our public lands and waters, which aligns perfectly with the needs and interests of the boating industry and our partners in the ORIR,” Dammrich said in a statement.
In speaking to BoatUS, Zinke made clear his advocacy for expanded access to federal public lands and waters and improving infrastructure at many of the aging facilities, BoatUS reported.
“Pressure to use our public lands will continue to grow, and many of our facilities consist of Eisenhower-era infrastructure,” Zinke said. “We have a $11.5 billion maintenance and repair backlog at our public parks. We need to look at reinvesting in our public lands.”
“Working with our partners in ORIR we are helping to identify real-world solutions to improve boater access across the country while generating awareness among key decision makers in Washington of boating’s significant impact in the lives of the American people,” Dammrich said.
“We’re proud to be able to showcase the more than 35,000 U.S. businesses that make up the recreational boating industry and speak on their behalf as we work together to protect boating for the millions of American boaters and the industry that produces the products that help them enjoy the lifestyle they love.”
In a Fox News opinion editorial that was published Monday, Zinke shared his thoughts on American outdoor recreation leading up to the meeting.
“The All-American Outdoor Experience is part of who we are as Americans, but it’s also a big economic driver for communities across the country,” Zinke said in the editorial. “As a whole, the outdoor recreation industry generates $887 billion in consumer spending and supports 7.6 million American jobs, according to industry analysts. In addition, the revenue the industry produces is a major boost to our economy.
“Made in America is as much about products as much as it is about the shared American experience created here. It is about making memories by taking a kid fishing for the first time, or in my case, taking my wife hiking early in our relationship,” Zinke said.