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MRAA Joins Coalition Supporting Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account

Sunday, April 03, 2016   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Jay Corn
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The Marine Retailers Association of the Americas, along with more than a dozen organizations representing various segments of the U.S. outdoor recreation industry, recently sent a joint letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate and House Interior Appropriations Subcommittees voicing support the creation of an Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account (ORSA).  

Funding for the initiative would ensure better assessment of the economic significance of programs and policies with the jurisdiction of the Departments of Agriculture and Interior. The letters voiced strong support for a recent statement issued by the Federal Recreation Council, which concluded ORSA would “directly and efficiently benefit both the private and public sectors, including the outdoor recreation industry and business interests.”

The list of organizations supporting ORSA and cosigners of recent letters to federal lawmakers: 

March 23, 2016

Honorable Lisa Murkowski, Chairman
Honorable Tom Udall, Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Committee on Appropriations
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senators Murkowski and Udall:

We request your action in the FY17 budget to fund the creation and operation of an Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account (ORSA) to better assess the economic significance of programs and policies under the jurisdiction of your subcommittee, chiefly within the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture.

The nation’s public lands and waters play an essential role for the recreation industry. Virtually all Americans participate in some form of outdoor activity at these places. This activity results in an estimated $650 billion in annual expenditures on RVs and boats, lift tickets and entrance fees, fishing and hunting licenses and surfboards, campground fees and OHVs – and much more. Expenditures on recreation create manufacturing jobs, jobs in retailing and repairs, lifeguard posts at public beaches and guide jobs in the backcountry, jobs at insurance firms and hotels. Federal agencies host more than a billion recreation visits and now tout the direct contributions to local and national economies. The National Park Service claims ten dollars in spending for each dollar it receives in appropriated funding. The Forest Service notes that its lands supply an estimated 60% of all downhill ski and snowboarding activity, all at privately built and operated ski areas.

Many of those signing this letter regularly collect and make available very useful data on the economic activities associated with a specific recreation industry. But this data is not standard in format and often fails to capture the full array of spending linked to recreation activity. A trusted, comprehensive report is needed.

The leadership of the federal agencies most active on recreation is represented on a multi- departmental body called the Federal Recreation Council (FRC). That Council has made the creation of a Recreation Satellite Account by the Bureau of Economic Analysis its highest priority. Creation of the account is, by national standards, very reasonable. The Department of Commerce, which has recently created similar satellite accounts for the arts, and for travel and tourism, estimates that the account can be in place in three years or less at a cost of approximately $3.5 million.

We endorse a recent statement by the FRC:

“ORSA will directly and efficiently benefit both the private and public sectors, including the outdoor recreation industry and business interests, as well as the public policy community, by providing a ready means to assist in the evaluation of policies, programs, grants and other support or development tools. Creating the satellite account presents an opportunity for detailed and defensible data to inform decision making, improving governance and long-term management of public lands and waters.”

The ORSA information is vital to making good choices in allocating federal funds through the budget process – for your very committee to make strategic decisions. Yet currently available information is not from the best possible public sources. Rather it has been created on an irregular basis by the recreation industry itself.

Yet the implementation of this account is in limbo. Although the funds are a very small portion of existing federal recreation program funding approved every year by your subcommittee – and about 1% of existing federal recreation fee collections – the money does compete with other popular recreation expenditures.

We call upon the Congress to invest immediately in creating the Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account as a vital tool in assessing federal program priorities and benefits. We ask that this be done in a way which does not impact highly popular recreation services, but instead as a vital part of effective governmental program management activities.

We urge that the FY17 budget provide for complete implementation of the Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account on a priority basis. The path forward is clear. Congressional action recently created and funded an Arts and Cultural Production Satellite Account. Similarly, a Travel and Tourism Satellite Account has been recently created. The data is already being collected. It simply needs to be organized so it can be appropriately aggregated from traditional reporting accounts.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.

Sincerely,

Derrick A. Crandall, President
American Recreation Coalition

Michael Nussman, President
American Sportfishing Association

Jay McAninch, President and CEO
Archery Trade Association

Paul Bambei, President
ARVC – National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds

Brad Gross, Chair
Association of Marina Industries

Margaret Podlich, President BoatU.S.

Geoff Baekey, Managing Director
CHM Government Services

Mary Ellen Sprenkel, President
The Corps Network

Ed Klim, President
International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association

Matt Gruhn, President
Marine Retailers Association of the Americas

Tim Buche, President
Motorcycle Industry Council

John Johnson, Executive Director
National Association of State Boating Law Administrators

Domenic Bravo, President
National Association of State Park Directors

Thom Dammrich, President

National Marine Manufacturers Association

Terry MacRae, Chairman
National Park Hospitality Association

Barbara Tulipane, President
National Recreation and Park Association

Michael Berry, President
National Ski Areas Association

Amy Roberts, Executive Director
Outdoor Industry Association

Phil Ingrassia, President
Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association

Frank Hugelmeyer, President
Recreation Vehicle Industry Association

Nick Sargent, President
SnowSports Industries America (SIA)

Ron Christofferson, President
States Organization for Boating Access