Recreation Organizations Thank Montana's Senator Daines for Support and Action

Recreation Organizations Thank Montana's Senator Daines for Support and Action

Washington, D.C. (September 7, 2017) – Key recreation community representatives met with U.S. Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) recently to express appreciation for his leadership on Great Outdoors Month® and his support for increasing recreation participation on public lands. Senator Daines has championed outdoor recreation on the floor of the Senate and assembled a bipartisan team of Senators to pass the first-ever Senate resolution declaring June Great Outdoors Month®. In addition, he will be holding a hearing in late September entitled “Encouraging the Next Generation to Visit National Parks.”

During the meeting, Senator Daines described outdoor recreation as one of the largest – if not the largest – sectors of his state’s economy. He raised several issues which constrain parks and other public lands in Montana from delivering their full potential of great experiences, including poor connectivity and the backlog in deferred maintenance in visitor infrastructure. He expressed support for expanding and enhancing recreation facilities and noted the resistance that proposed improvements encounter. He described the significant financial and experiential benefits his state has received from the Big Sky development, including a ski area and more on national forest lands, and expressed strong doubts that such a world-class development would be permitted today.

Representatives of the recreation community told the Senator about challenges facing many visitors to public lands, including campers. They emphasized that national park campgrounds are “Eisenhower era” and, as a result, usage is dropping, especially among the growing number of RV owners. Senator Daines also heard about successes in online pass sales and opportunities to better use technology to plan visits to, and enhance actual experience on, the nation’s public lands and waters.

The recreation community noted its support for important initiatives underway at the U.S. Department of the Interior under Secretary Ryan Zinke, and the Senator express strong support for the actions and the Secretary, noting that he and the Secretary had first met nearly 40 years ago at Montana Boy’s State.

The Senator sought the recreation community’s support to deal with the fire management challenges in his state and across much of the nation, describing the situation as both a funding issue and a legal-challenge system that needs correction. He noted that fires were destroying important recreation assets as the meeting took place, exacerbated by poor management decisions and court challenges even when the hard work of consensus building on fuel management was done well.

Recreation leaders described a range of opportunities ripe for consideration by two key subcommittees chaired by the Senator: the Subcommittee on National Parks and the Subcommittee on Conservation, Forestry and Natural Resources. The leaders offered to work with the Senator to share information about his efforts, as well as efforts underway at Interior and the Forest Service through the recreation community’s large and diverse communications channels, from trade and consumer publications to social media, websites and large gatherings including shows and conventions.

As the meeting closed, the Senator took the time to show the group pictures of his recess activities with family in the Great Outdoors and interacted with many of the participants on Montana experiences and Montana recreation businesses.

In addition to the Senator, the conversations included his Senior Policy Advisor, Meghan Thacker, and Annie Hoefler, Professional Staff Member for the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. The recreation organizations participating in the meeting were:

  • American Horse Council
  • American Recreation Coalition
  • American Sportfishing Association
  • Boat Owners Association of the United States
  • Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP
  • The Corps Network
  • Motorcycle Industry Council
  • National Marine Manufacturers Association
  • National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council
  • National Park Hospitality Association
  • NIC Inc.
  • Outdoor Industry Association
  • Polaris, Inc.
  • Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association
  • Recreation Vehicle Industry Association
  • Vista Outdoor
  • Information on Senator Steve Daines can be found at his official website: www.daines.senate.gov/meet-steve/biography. A copy of Senate Resolution 199 is attached and available, along with a summary of Great Outdoors Month 2017 activities, at: funoutdoors.com/GOM2017.