Outdoor Industry Association Rejects Sales of Public Lands in Fiscal Cliff Negotiations
Urges Lawmakers to Recognize the Importance of Outdoor Recreation to U.S. Economy
Outdoor Industry Association® (OIA) voiced concern over lawmaker proposals to sell public lands as one solution to the impending fiscal cliff.
Last week, Representatives Rob Bishop (R-UT) and Stevan Pearce (R-NM) sent a letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH), suggesting that by “divesting the federal government of its vast land holdings,” Congress could “pay down the deficit and reduce spending.”
OIA dismisses the letter’s assertion that public lands throughout the country, and especially in the West, are lands that “we do not even need,” by pointing to the 6 million sustainable American jobs they support. A healthy national outdoor recreation system of diverse, accessible, affordable places for every American to get outdoors, enjoy active lifestyles and play is crucial to the health of the American people and our thriving outdoor recreation economy.
“Public lands should not be a bargaining chip in deficit negotiations,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, president and CEO of OIA. “Our nation’s public lands attract millions of people from the U.S. and around the world who spend their hard-earned dollars on outdoor products and travel. In a time of fiscal crisis, we cannot downplay the importance of the $646 billion in consumer spending, 6.1 million jobs and more than $80 billion in federal, state and local revenues that outdoor recreation generates. Public lands are a critical part of this equation. ”
Some lawmakers recognize the importance of protecting our public lands. In a statement of opposition to Bishop and Pearce’s proposal, Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) said that “selling off our parks, forests, wilderness and other public lands — in Colorado and throughout the West — would not only be shortsighted, but it also would undermine a critical component of our thriving outdoor economy. Our public lands are, in many ways, our most renewable and reliable economic driver.”