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ORR discusses future of outdoor recreation industry, elects new leadership

The Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR) Summer Board Meeting capped off two days of meetings in Washington, D.C. focused on growing the impact of outdoor recreation at the national level. ORR board members attended meetings with leadership and key staff from the National Park Service (NPS), U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR).

For the first time, ORR leadership met with several agencies at DOL to discuss workforce development needs in the outdoor recreation industry.

The organization said over the next year, it will be working to roll out strategies that recruit and train the next generation of outdoor recreation employees through partnerships with conservation service corps and local workforce investment programs.

"These efforts will help develop new career pathways in our industry. We will also continue to educate our current workforce through existing technical programs, as well as through new programs like the Outdoor Economy Initiative at Oregon State University. This will ensure our industry is ready to meet the needs and opportunities of the evolving technologies and consumer preferences in outdoor recreation," a news release from the ORR said.

The organization also said that members look forward to working with our key partners on rebranding what a career in outdoor recreation looks like so all Americans can see themselves in an outdoor recreation career.

In a two-hour first-of-its-kind roundtable with USDA Rural Development, EPA and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), ORR discussed strategies that will drive rural communities and expand public-private partnerships that can help local businesses connect with technical assistance the agencies provide in those communities.

ORR also discussed the future of outdoor recreation with USFS Chief Vicki Christiansen and reiterated our commitment to ensuring the impact of wildfires on outdoor recreation and gateway communities continues to be known. The meeting with NPS offered an opportunity for ORR members to share ways they are increasing access to outdoor recreation on federal lands and waters and the attention we are paying to the sustainability of recreation on these resources. Members also emphasized ORR's dedication to fixing the maintenance backlog so that the thriving outdoor recreation economy continues to grow to its full potential and address the need for revitalization in our nation’s rural and gateway communities.

Lastly, ORR met with USTR staff to discuss the negative impact tariffs are having on the entire recreation economy, and the fear that they will price consumers out of the places they love and the gear, equipment, vehicles and more they need to have safe and fulfilling experiences.

During the board meeting, ORR’s incoming executive committee was elected by the Board of Directors and welcomed Mary Ellen Sprenkel, The Corps Network president & CEO; and Matt Kormann, Archery Trade Association president & CEO to the ORR executive committee. The new leadership will begin their two-year terms on Oct. 1, 2019.

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