Last week, after President Obama signed the bill into law, a commentary piece in the Star Tribune hailed the Act as an important step to understanding the "full impact of recreational use when considering management of federal and state forests."
Outdoor Industry Association, who lobbied for the bill also reported, "This groundbreaking, bipartisan legislation that will count outdoor recreation jobs as part of the Gross Domestic Product... is expected to provide better tools for elected officials to make more informed policy decisions and to have a better understanding of the role the outdoor industry has on the nation’s overall economic health."
We put out a call on our social media accounts to hear your opinons on this bill: How would you or your business be affected by it? What are your questions, comments or concerns?
Tom Kalahar has recently retired after working for Renville County Soil & Water Conservation District for 37 years and is now the Vice Chair of Clean Up the River Environment (CURE) based in Montevideo, Minn. He wrote in this response to our query:
It is a big win for the outdoor industries and the sportsmen/women of this country. Recognizing and legitimizing the economic impact of outdoor recreational use will help shape national policy landuse decisions.
But, don't pat Congress too hard on the back for finally getting this done! It is 2016 and this information of economic impact from the outdoor industry has been known for decades. It seems that Congress is now listening to outdoor industries’ interests in a big way. This kind of legislation would never have gotten a hearing in years past due to the pressure put on by mining and farming industries.
This information has been kept out of the public conversations for decades. It has been to the advantage of some big farming and mining industries to continue to push the idea that extraction/farming was the only legitimate use of natural resources and that no other value was important or legitimate.
In the past, land/landscapes not being mined, farmed, grazed or developed were considered "waste lands". The argument was that if these spaces were not used to make money it was poor land use, even though serious money was and is being made through outdoor recreation. If this Act becomes law that argument will still be used but now the outdoor industries have been legitimized by the federal government and that argument will be much harder to make.
If you look at how big game hunting in Africa is helping to save habitat and animals there, the same is true here. The recreational value has to be competitive with other uses such as agriculture and mining. In the past it was most always the encouraged by government bodies to develop the land to ADD value.
So yes it is a big deal, but recognizing it has been a no brainer for a long time.
-Tom Kalahar with edits by Amanda Anderson