On Nov. 21, the National Marine Manufacturers Association and several of its partners in the Outdoor Recreation Industry Roundtable met with Acting Under Secretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources and the Environment Dan Jiron and a key group of USDA officials, including many from the U.S. Forest Service.
The ORIR group highlighted the importance of our nation’s forests to many world-class recreation experiences including boating, fishing, skiing, and riding. The group emphasized that public private partnerships in recreation experiences are key to expanding access to – and enjoyment of – America’s public lands and waters.
The USDA is responsible for 155 National Forests and 20 grasslands in 44 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, covering 193 million acres.
Organizations that took part in the meeting included the American Sportfishing Association, Boat Owners Association of The United States, NMMA, National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council, Motorcycle Industry Council, American Recreation Coalition and the Great Outdoors Month Council.
Under Secretary Jiron agreed and expressed a commitment to moving quickly to improve visitor experiences in national forests. He assured the group that Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue is a strong advocate for outdoor recreation and invited everyone to view the Secretary’s recent message regarding the national forests.
Connectivity and easy access to accurate and up-to-date information about recreation opportunities were topics of particular interest to Under Secretary Jiron. He actively invited ideas for ways to overcome communications problems that stifle interest in our nation’s forests from younger, urban, tech-savvy Americans.
ORIR members shared ideas for modernizing recreation resources and described how increased partnerships could make an immediate positive impact on getting more Americans outdoors. As part of this, they shared information about partnership efforts now underway with the U.S. Department of the Interior, including proposals to reduce the maintenance backlog with private investments, a new “Made in America” Recreation Advisory Committee now soliciting nominations, and the appointment of a new internal Recreation Champion reporting directly to the Interior Secretary to spur partnerships and address key issues.
The meeting culminated with an agreement to plan further meetings involving the department’s leadership and its recreation partners focusing on action steps, overcoming barriers to partnerships, and improving rural prosperity.