Senate committee approves outdoor economic impact study funding

Congress has set funding for the Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account at $1.5 million, meeting the levels necessary to survey the economic impact of the outdoor recreation in the coming fiscal year.

The Outdoor Recreation Roundtable – the leading coalition of outdoor recreation trade associations and organizations chaired by National Marine Manufacturers Association President Thom Dammrich – commended the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee for including funds for the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis account in its Commerce, Justice, and Science bill.

The BEA, which is the government body responsible for calculating U.S. GDP, launched ORSA in 2017 to complement its overall statistical analysis by providing detailed insights into the economic impact of the outdoor recreation industry.

The industry had previously not been included in U.S. GDP calculations despite years of calls to do so by industry leaders.

In February, ORSA released its highly-anticipated initial statistical findings on the outdoor recreation industry, showing the sector makes up 2 percent of U.S. GDP and accounts for $673 billion in annual gross domestic output.

This impact exceeds that of key U.S. industries such as farming and computer manufacturing. In addition, ORSA found the outdoor recreation economy grew by 3.8 percent in 2016, exceeding the 2.8 percent growth of the overall U.S. economy during the same period.

“We are grateful to Subcommittee Chairman Jerry Moran and Ranking Member Jeanne Shaheen for including this critically important funding,” Dammrich said.“The outdoor recreation industry has long known the significant impact we have on the overall U.S. economy, but it wasn’t until BEA released its findings earlier this year that our impact was formally recognized by the government.”

According to Dammrich, funding ORSA for FY2019 will ensure the industry can build on the progress made in 2018 by studying its economic impact at the national and regional levels and demonstrating that outdoor recreation deserves to be a national priority.

“Despite being established only last year, ORSA has been instrumental in our efforts to show policymakers just how important our industry is to the American economy,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, ORR vice chair and president of the RV Industry Association. “We will continue working as an industry to ensure that the growth of the outdoor recreation economy is matched by commonsense policies that lead to smart investments in the infrastructure of our national lands and waterways.”

It is critical for lawmakers to understand the full economic impact of outdoor recreation in the United States as they debate policies that will shape our industry in the years ahead, added Amy Roberts, executive director of the Outdoor Industry Association.

“The analysis provided by ORSA is an invaluable tool for our leaders in Washington and demonstrates that a healthy outdoor recreation industry is essential to the strength of the national economy,” Roberts said. “We want to thank Chairman Moran and Ranking Member Shaheen for making the funding of ORSA a priority and to Sen. Gardner for his continued support for the program.”

As Congress takes the next steps in its funding, ORSA is expected to release revised outdoor recreation economic data this fall, with updates to the prototype figures released in February. At the same time, ORR members will be advocating for final passage of an ORSA funding bill in both chambers of Congress.

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