As the outdoor industry pushes for more state recreation offices, we're getting our wish. But it's taking time. We asked HydraPak Founder and CEO Matt Lyon about his involvement with AB-907, a bill in California's state legislature to establish an office of outdoor recreation for the state.
1. Tell us a little bit about your involvement with this bill. Why is it important for California to have an outdoor rec office?
The Outdoor Industry Association invited me to attend a day of informational meetings at the Capital and to speak in support of the bill in front of the House committee. As a small California-based industry supplier, this experience was very informative and gave me increased motivation to see an outside recreation office get established. Despite the size of our industry in California, in both dollars and employment, there is little awareness in the Capital of our interests or positions. Other tax revenue-producing activities are well represented, such as off-road vehicles and hunting/fishing. It's important that we help support the establishment of an office so our voices are heard in the process, and our desires are weighed equally with other constituencies.
2. How can other outdoor industry folks and brands get involved in their own states?
OIA is a great leader for our industry, but they have very few resources to focus on state matters. However, most of the issues that affect our land access and use are decided at the state level. Members can organize as a group within their own state and then take direction from OIA on the best way to advocate for representation within their system. As with all democracy, you have to show up to have your voice heard.
3. If we had outdoor recreation offices in all 50 states, how could that help the outdoor industry?
We all benefit when it’s easier to access the outdoors and we have improved outdoor infrastructure and facilities. Resident members are the best people to influence local policies and improve the environment for outdoor recreation. I'm convinced that we need this in California and that all states would benefit from greater member involvement.