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More than 60 companies, including Patagonia, L.L. Bean, REI and North Face, have signed a letter to Congress asking that the outdoor recreation economy be included in any upcoming pandemic response legislation.
“Our outdoor recreation economy generates $887 billion in consumer spending and 7.6 million jobs annually,” the letter states. “The outdoor industry comprises 2.2 percent of the United States GDP and, prior to the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, was growing faster than the economy.”
The letter, which was drafted by the Outdoor Industry Association, asked for specific support for six key actions:
- Permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and fund the maintenance backlog that has plagued federal public lands. This action would finalize bipartisan legislation that was close to passing under the Great American Outdoors Act before the pandemic hit.
- Streamline the federal permitting system, an action that supports the guiding and outfitting communities by enabling them to kick-start local tourism once public lands re-open.
- Include bikes and pedestrians in infrastructure bills. “This type of funding helps local economies and provides people with safe, environmentally sensitive, and low-cost forms of transportation and recreation,” the letter reads.
- Expand the Civilian Conservation Corps to provide jobs for Americans and restoration and stewardship of our public lands. “This program could immediately be brought to scale to meet the needs of recently unemployed workers from various affected industries,” the letter states.
- Fund parks, trails, and other outdoor recreation amenities in underserved and under-resourced communities, an action that would address the inequities around those that live in areas with access to outdoor recreation and natural areas, and those that do not.
- Prioritize policies to reduce carbon emissions. “Our industry relies on a healthy environment for those who love the outdoors to experience it to the fullest,” the letter says. “Green infrastructure solutions not only sequester carbon and help mitigate the worst impacts of future natural disasters but also serve as places to recreate.”