U.S. House Passes Outdoor REC Act

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The U.S. House of Representatives on November 14 passed the Outdoor REC Act, a bill that would direct the federal government’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) to “assess and analyze the outdoor recreation economy of the United States and the effects attributable to it on the overall U.S. economy.”

In layman’s terms, the government would shine a greater spotlight on economic effects of the estimated $646 billion outdoor industry. In conducting its assessment, the BEA “may consider employment, sales, contributions to travel and tourism and other appropriate contributing components of the outdoor recreation economy,” officials said.

The bill now moves to the U.S. Senate before it can reach the president’s desk to become law. The Senate version of the bill (S.2219) is being sponsored by Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).

“The overwhelming, bipartisan support in the House shows that Congress understands what we in the outdoor industry have known all along, that the $646 billion outdoor recreation economy, and the 6.1 million jobs it supports, is a major economic driver in communities across the United States and should be counted just like any other major industry,” said OIA Executive Director Amy Roberts. “We are grateful to Representatives Beyer, Reichert, McMorris Rodgers and Welch, and to Chairman Upton, and the more than two dozen cosponsors for supporting the outdoor industry and the recreation economy.”

The bill was a central focus of last April’s OIA Capitol Summit, officials said, where more than 100 industry executives and OIA partner organizations asked for Congress to support it. That same month, U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said  her department would fund a two-year pilot program of the BEA recreation economy study.

“The BEA study is an official government study that will likely align with OIA’s Recreation Economy Report,” OIA officials said. The organization is prepping its third economic report, scheduled for release in April 2017.