take me outdoors episode 7: the future of outdoor recreation with jessica wahl
“It’s an interesting time for outdoor recreation – we were called the sleeping giant just a few years ago. The giant is now awake!”
— Jessica Wahl
While it’s easy to be overwhelmed with all of the uncertainties in our turbulent political climate, this week’s guest brings some light to all of the positive things that are in motion that affect our lands and industry. I sat down with Jessica Wahl, the Government Affairs Manager at the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) who’s on the front lines in DC making a difference at the policy level.
Jessica fell in love with the outdoors when she saw how it changed lives and improved communities through her previous work with the Office of the Secretary on external affairs and youth engagement in the outdoors. Jessica got to work closely with companies like Patagonia, KEEN and The North Face, so joining the ranks at OIA seemed like the perfect next step for her.
When Jessica first came to OIA, more of her focus was on conservation but recently that focus has widened to anything and everything that gets people outside. The lines are blurring between the traditional “man powered” outdoor industry and opening up to the whole supply chain including motor powered recreationists, hunters and more. When we all join arms and speak up together, our voices become louder.
I hope you enjoy this episode as much as I do!
OIA was founded in 1989 by visionary outdoor industry leaders who realized that “outdoor” could be much more than a passing consumer trend. Today, OIA is the leading trade association and voice of the outdoor recreation industry.
The Recreations Economic Contributions Act (REC Act) has been signed by President Obama, ensuring that the outdoor recreation economy, including outdoor industry jobs and our economic impact, are measured by the federal government and accounted for as part of the national Gross Domestic Product.
Using the momentum from the REC Act, OIA is educating new members of congress and other admin on the importance of this Act and how it touches every district and state.
It would be a huge benefit to appoint a Director of Outdoor Recreation, like Luis Benitez, in every state’s governor’s office.
In 2017 OIA wants to make sure there aren’t many rollbacks in recreation assets, public lands and climate policy.
The much talked about Infrastructure and Transportation package should benefit trails, protected bike lanes, public lands, roads and bridges in parks.
The National Park Service Centennial Act (H.R. 4680) addresses the $12 billion in needed repairs to park infrastructure, such as unmaintained trails and deteriorating buildings and structures that are in danger of falling apart.
President-elect Trump does see value in the outdoor recreation economy and the jobs it creates.
Land management is critical. There are places to develop and places to leave in their natural state. Having those conversations at the local level is essential to overall success.
We must work to keep our lands federally managed as it’s the #1 threat to outdoor recreation at this point.
How can you help? Support your local specialty retailers! Buy gear and buy local. Get involved in your outdoor community and conservation efforts.