Opinion: Great outdoors, great economy

U.S. Congressmen Jared Polis and Mike Simpson crossed party lines to start the House Outdoor Recreation Caucus. Here's why.
Congressmen Jared Polis and Mike Simpson

Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), left, and Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID), right. Their new caucus has 24 members: 10 Republicans, 14 Democrats.

We are proud to have created the first-ever U.S. House Outdoor Recreation Caucus, which we organized earlier this year. We know we are preaching to the choir—those of you reading this know how important smart public policies are to the outdoor recreation economy and our communities. Not every member of Congress has the pleasure of representing a district where outdoor recreation is not only a hobby, but a way of life.

We began this caucus to support the outdoor recreation economy that generates 7.6 million jobs, $887 billion in consumer spending, and $124.5 billion in tax revenues. This economy is made up of gear manufacturers, retailers, suppliers, outfitters, and all of the hikers, climbers, hunters, anglers, paddlers, surfers, mountain bikers, skiers, and other outdoor enthusiasts across the country. We intend to let those here in Washington, D.C. know how many of you exist, and that federal policies have a direct impact on you. Whether it’s climbing in the mountains of Colorado or Idaho or paddling the many rivers and lakes along both coasts, America offers a wide variety of outdoor pursuits.

The American legacy is interwoven with strong ties to our land and water. This caucus will honor and help preserve that legacy while ensuring outdoor businesses grow and thrive, creating healthy communities and healthy economies.

We plan to educate members of Congress and their staff who make decisions affecting our public lands and economy each day. We will educate individuals on important subjects including: the outdoor recreation economy; federal support for outdoor activities and education; trends in domestic manufacturing, global sourcing, and retail of outdoor products; recreation access and use of public and private resources; wildfire funding and the need to fix the disastrous cycle of fire borrowing; and construction and maintenance of our public outdoor recreation infrastructure.

We strive to encourage healthy, active lifestyles that foster an appreciation of America’s lands and waters and support local economies, businesses, and communities through outdoor recreation. As we hear from Americans disconnected from nature and physical activity, engaging in outdoor recreation offers a promising solution to this health crisis, while also supporting some of the country’s most innovative and dynamic companies.

This bipartisan caucus has quickly grown by dozens. No matter their political affiliation, members of Congress want to hear about issues important to you. From the backcountry to urban parks, Americans have nearly limitless abilities to connect with the outdoors. Together, we’ll encourage lawmakers to pass policies that help us all enjoy these extensive recreation opportunities.

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