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Highly-Anticipated, Comprehensive Guide Helps Communities Strengthen their Economies through Outdoor Recreation -- January 25, 2024

Today the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR) released the second edition of its Rural Economic Development Toolkit on a webinar with over 1,000 registrants. This essential resource, built upon three years of extensive research across the United States, is a comprehensive guide for communities looking to strengthen their economies through outdoor recreation. At a time when the outdoor recreation economy at large surpassed $1 trillion in economic impact, and communities around the country are utilizing outdoor recreation infrastructure and access for economic diversification, this resource is well-suited to meet the unprecedented demand for support.
 
ORR’s Vice President of Programs Chris Perkins stated, “This toolkit is more than just a resource; it’s also a roadmap for communities to enhance and build robust outdoor recreation economies, sourced from community leaders around the United States. Over 1000 people from communities and organizations nationwide signed up to learn from this tool, a testament to the growing interest and dedication towards sustainable economic development through outdoor recreation in rural America.”

Backed by the generous support of the Richard King Mellon Foundation, and with the support of Oregon State University Center for the Outdoor Recreation Economy, this toolkit represents a significant advancement in empowering rural communities. In today’s nationally broadcast webinar for Congressional and agency staff, community leaders, economic development professionals, and recreation advocates, Perkins, the principal author of the toolkit, presented a broad array of new research and resources. Following his presentation, community leaders from various rural regions including Old Fort, North Carolina; Athens County, Ohio; the Pennsylvania Wilds; and Beckley, West Virginia, shared their success strategies, emphasizing the toolkit’s practical applications. For more.

Legislation supported by AMI and the marine industry makes real impact -- September 6, 2023

The Association of Marina Industries and industry-supported Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is making a real impact for marinas and boatyards. BoatUS Foundation recently announced that they are a recipient of a 4- year, $10 Million grant from NOAA's Marine Debris Removal Program to remove abandoned derelict vessels from our nation’s coasts and Great Lakes, and prevent associated pollution, navigation, and safety hazards. 

The grant, funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, is part of NOAA’s larger mission to address marine debris, which not only includes fiberglass boats but derelict fishing gear, plastics and other types of debris.

The grant directs the Annapolis, Maryland-based boating nonprofit to “…improve U.S. coastal and marine waters affected by abandoned and derelict vessels by facilitating removal and prevention activities across the country.”

The majority of funds will kick-start a one-stop-shop competitive grant program to seek out and complete marine debris removal projects on our nation’s coasts (saltwaters) and in the Great Lakes for funding and support. Under the guidelines, any organization – public or private – will be able to apply for ADV removal funds. For more.

Outdoor Recreational Roundtable Announces New Rural Economic Development Grant -- July 18, 2023 

Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR), of which AMI is a founding member, announced the opening of its grant opportunity to help rural communities grow their local economies and make them more resilient through outdoor recreation. These grants are made possible through funding from the Richard King Mellon Foundation and help ensure that ORR can continue its charge to provide support, information, and resources to rural communities seeking to create economic opportunities through outdoor recreation.

This marks the second round of ORR’s successful grant program which debuted in 2021. This new round increases grant size to $10,000 and provides in-kind technical assistance from ORR members to rural communities with compelling recreation economy plans. For communities with big plans and limited bandwidth, grants like these can help unlock federal, state, and local match dollars from programs like USDA Rural Development, state infrastructure funds, and interest from private foundations. For more see the announcement from ORR.

Outdoor Recreation Roundtable Launches Innovative New Resources for Growing Outdoor Workforce of the Future - July 11, 2023

Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR) and the Association of Marina Industries are thrilled to announce the launch of a new Outdoor Workforce Hub, developed with support from The VF Foundation. The launch follows a year spent gathering perspectives from ORR members, outdoor industry leaders and community partners to identify opportunities for the $862 billion outdoor recreation economy, and the 4.5 million professionals who support connecting people to the outdoors.

The Outdoor Workforce Hub debuts on ORR’s new website and features a number of interactive tools designed to help employers, educators, and those interested in joining the outdoor recreation industry, as well as those looking to expand their careers in the sector, including:

  • A new Roadmap for a 21st Century Outdoor Workforce;
  • A first-of-its kind map of nearly 250 higher education, trade and training programs for outdoor careers;
  • A primer on outdoor recreation-related jobs and existing research to help prospective talent, industry leaders, educators and policymakers alike understand the breadth and depth of outdoor careers;
  • A four-part Outdoor Workforce Expert series;
  • An ORR Career Path Module featuring real professionals across the industry;
  • Materials for career development offices; and
  • Links to other impactful resources to help outdoor professionals thrive.
To read more about ORR's resources visit here. 

AMI welcomes the introduction of Protecting Whales, Human Safety, and the Economy Act of 2023 - June 8, 2023

Following this week’s House Natural Resources subcommittee hearing examining the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) proposed vessel speed restriction along the Atlantic seaboard, Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and John Boozman (R-AR), Co-Chairs of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus and members of the Congressional Boating Caucus, introduced the bipartisan Protecting Whales, Human Safety, and the Economy Act of 2023.

The bill would prohibit NOAA from issuing a rule that modifies or replaces the North Atlantic Right Whale vessel strike reduction regulation until technological solutions recently authorized by Congress can help better track whales and avoid strikes. NOAA has proposed changes that would broaden the boundaries and timing of seasonal speed restrictions while expanding mandatory speed restrictions (10-knots, or 11mph), despite a lack of scientific evidence that the proposed changes would further protect the North Atlantic right whales population.

“As Co-Chair of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus and as an avid sportsman myself, I know firsthand how important our fishing culture is to who we are, whether that’s on our trout streams in West Virginia or coastal fishing along the Eastern Seaboard,” said Senator Manchin. “I’m proud to introduce the bipartisan Protecting Whales, Human Safety, and the Economy Act of 2023 to prevent yet another example of dangerous federal overreach that would place unnecessary burdens on our seasonal fishermen, boat manufacturers and the coastal economies that rely on them. I’ve consistently voted to rein in this Administration’s attempts to regulate critical industries out of business, and I encourage my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this bipartisan, commonsense legislation.”

“We can and should balance protecting wildlife and livelihoods because it is common sense. I’m pleased to join Senator Manchin on this legislation to encourage a reasonable solution for safeguarding the Right Whale population without imposing overly restrictive mandates and inviting unintended consequences,” Senator Boozman said.

NOAA’s proposed changes would broaden the boundaries and timing of seasonal speed restrictions along the East Coast while expanding mandatory speed restrictions of 10 knots or less from vessels over 65 feet to those over 35 feet. The proposed speed zones would be in effect annually from November through April or May, directly overlapping with fishing seasons for popular fisheries throughout the speed zones. The changes would impact more than 63,000 registered boats, causing economic harm to coastal economies and the boating and fishing industries.

"We applaud and thank Senator Manchin and Boozman for introducing this common-sense law to address the issue of right whale speed restrictions," said Eric Kretsch, AMI Legislative Coordinator, "This law will provide the marina and recreational boating industry involvement in finding the solution to vessel whale strikes." 

AMI and ORR Hails America’s Outdoor Recreation Act - May 18, 2023

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee recently passed the America’s Outdoor Recreation Act, the first such legislation specifically aimed at the $862 billion outdoor recreation industry.

"AORA, the first-of-its-kind recreation packaged dedicated directly to the outdoor recreation industry, will expand access and improve infrastructure on Federal Lands and Waters. This piece of legislation is essential to get more Americans outdoors and on American lakes and rivers," said Eric Kretsch, AMI's Legislative Coordinator, "AMI is looking forward to AORA's quick passage through Congress." 

“We are so thrilled AORA continues to move forward in Congress, showcasing how the outdoor recreation economy transcends politics and benefits all Americans who enjoy the outdoors,” Jessica Wahl Turner, president of the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable, said in a statement. “We … look forward to its continued progress through Congress this year.”

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, outdoor recreation contributes nearly 2% of national GDP and generates 4.5 million jobs.

“America’s Outdoor Recreation Act will bolster outdoor recreation access and opportunities for millions of Americans who continue to discover the benefits of the great outdoors and time spent on our nation’s lands and waters,” NMMA president and CEO Frank Hugelmeyer said.

Added Glen Hughes, president of the American Sportfishing Association: “The America’s Outdoor Recreation Act is a comprehensive set of provisions to ensure our public lands are well-managed and conserved to benefit the outdoor recreation economy and all those who love the outdoors.”

AMI attends American Boating Congress; participates in Congressional Hill Meetings - May 10, 2023

AMI's Legislative and Outreach Coordinator, Eric Kretsch, lead the Rhode Island delegation on Capitol Hill visiting the offices of Senator Jack Reed, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, and Representative David Cicilini. AMI discussed the North Atlantic Right Whale Vessel Strick Reduction Rule, changes to the Clean Vessel Act, the LAKES Act, and the PREPARE Act with Rhode Island's representatives. 



AMI has co-hosted the American Boating Congress since 2016 along with other marine trades associations.



A full report out from the 2023 American Boating Congress will be available in the May 2023 AMI Advocate available in a few weeks. AMI will update this page with a link to that edition. If you have any questions about ABC or AMI’s Advocacy work please reach out to Eric Kretsch at ekretsch@marinaassociation.org.

Learn more about the American Boating Congress here. To learn more about AMI’s Advocacy work look here.

AMI to co-host and attend the American Boating Congress next week - May 4, 2023
The Association of Marina Industries is a co-host of the 2023 American Boating Congress the only national advocacy event for the Boating Industry, hosted by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA). AMI staff will be in attendance and lead a team on Capitol Hill to discuss the most pressing issues facing our industry with Congressional staff and leaders.

Highlights of the event include a BoatPAC reception, seminars on the most important legislative topics, and Congressional Hill Meetings. Congressional Hill Meetings will take place May 10 from 9 AM – 2 PM; over 100 members of the recreational boating industry will meet with members of Congress to discuss topics like the PREPARE Act, the Right Whale boating restrictions, and other topics.

Learn more about the American Boating Congress here. To learn more about AMI’s Advocacy work look here.




ORR Releases April Roundtable Roundup - April 27, 2023
AMI is a proud founding member of the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable. Here is what went on at ORR in April 2023.

ORR Meets with Confluence of States  --  ORR staff joined several state Office of Outdoor Recreation (OREC) directors for Confluence of States meetings in Maryland and Washington, D.C. earlier this month. ORR and state directors met with federal agency leadership and Members of Congress to discuss how they can strengthen existing partnerships and bring new state Offices of Outdoor Recreation online.

ORR President Speaks at TRCP Awards Dinner -- ORR President Jessica Turner spoke at the 15th annual Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership Capital Conservation Awards Dinner earlier this month. The event honored Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), Congressman Blake Moore (R-UT), former National Wild Turkey Federation CEO and ORR member Becky Humphries, and Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever President and CEO Howard Vincent.

Turner presented Senator Manchin with the James D. Range Conservation Award and thanked him for his constant support of the outdoor recreation economy. This includes introduction of the America’s Outdoor Recreation Act, a bipartisan piece of legislation that would transform how Americans access their public lands and waters. For more.

AMI signs-on to LAKES Act Letter of Support - April 27, 2023
AMI joined other associations in support of the LAKES Act. The Lake Access Keeping Economies Strong Act is bipartisan bill that would improve outdoor recreation facilities in U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)-managed areas, provide new opportunities for public-private investments, and give local districts more flexibility to reinvest their resources.

“Because of discrepancies in federal law, managers of some of North Dakotans’ favorite outdoor recreation sites have to get approval from Washington to initiate operations and maintenance projects. And, unlike every other federal land management agency, the Army Corps cannot retain recreation fees at the sites where they’re collected,” said Senator Cramer. “This makes no sense. Our bipartisan bill would keep resources and decision-making closer to home, while providing new opportunities for private investment in our recreation facilities.”

“This bipartisan legislation will make it possible for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to enter joint management partnerships with Tribes and nonprofits, and it ensures that recreation fees collected at Army Corps lakes stay in the community and actually go toward improving those facilities. These reforms will make a difference to New Mexican families enjoying a cookout at Santa Rosa Lake. They are critical to Abiquiu Lake’s role in managing our Rio Chama water. And they are essential to building partnerships with Tribes and nonprofits as we care for our federal outdoor spaces together,” said Senator Heinrich.

The USACE is one of the nation's largest federal outdoor recreation providers, managing nearly 257,000 facilities across 43 states. Under existing law, local USACE managers cannot retain recreation fee revenues collected onsite, an authority afforded to the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and National Parks Service. For more. To learn more about the LAKES Act see here.