Manchin Leads Robust Discussion On Outdoor Recreation Legislation, Commits To Working On A First-Ever Bipartisan Recreation Package

December 2, 2021

To watch a video of Senator Manchin’s opening remarks, please click here.

To watch a video of Senator Manchin’s questioning, please click here.

Washington, DC – Today, the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing to consider several outdoor recreation bills, including a bipartisan bill introduced by Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and John Barrasso (R-WY), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Committee. During the hearing, Chairman Manchin highlighted the economic impact outdoor recreation has had and continues to have for communities across the country, particularly in West Virginia.

“Outdoor recreation has been a powerful economic driver in states across the country – and West Virginia is no exception. I have seen firsthand the jobs that the outdoor recreation economy has brought to rural areas in West Virginia. The outdoor recreation industry generates 1.8 percent of my state’s GDP and supports over 18,000 jobs. And almost three percent of our workforce is now employed in the outdoor recreation sector, having earned $641 million in salaries last year… As we discuss legislation this morning, I believe we must keep in mind how the ideas in these bills can help grow the $374.3 billion annual contribution that outdoor recreation makes to the economies in rural America,” Chairman Manchin said.

The witnesses praised the legislation under consideration and urged the Committee to move swiftly to advance the bills. Chairman Manchin anticipated that the bills would help “facilitate people’s ability to enjoy our public lands while supporting jobs and local economies,” and vowed that the Committee would work on a first-ever bipartisan recreation package.

“These provisions, and others being shared today, help ensure that outdoor recreation assets can support 21st Century demands by adding tools to managers’ toolboxes and modernizing systems so our outdoor treasures remain accessible long into the future… There has never been a better time to consider a recreation package made up of critical management policies like those before us today to ensure the federal government is investing in places and tools that can revitalize not just our economy, but also our collective spirit,” said Ms. Jessica (Wahl) Turner, President, Outdoor Recreation Roundtable.

“The time to invest in the outdoors is now. Millions of people ventured outdoors over the past twenty months. Some reconnected with their favorite pastimes, such as hunting or biking, while others engaged in a recreational activity for the first time, including more than 10 million first time campers. This resurgence in outdoor activity has continued in 2021 and isn’t expected to slow down anytime soon. With so many new and existing participants venturing outside, it’s incumbent upon leaders in the private and public sectors to maintain the pandemic-fueled stoke by adjusting to these changing trends and creating an outdoor ecosystem that is more accessible, diverse and streamlined… The Committee’s actions today show that Congress is serious about the outdoors as well. The nine bills under consideration advance common goals that we support, including expanded access, greater diversity and better management of our public lands. We commend the Committee for this leadership and foresight in advancing this bipartisan docket of legislation,” said Mr. Fred Ferguson, Vice President for Public Affairs and Communications, Vista Outdoor.

“The Department of the Interior supports the overall goals of these bills, which align with the Secretary’s priorities to build healthy communities and economies, advance environmental justice, and provide safe and equitable access to outdoor recreation opportunities for all Americans… This includes improving public health, safety, and climate resiliency at developed recreation sites and areas by updating and modernizing infrastructure, with special consideration to meeting accessibility standards for people with disabilities. We believe these bills have the potential to address some long-standing challenges, and we look forward to working with the sponsors and the Committee to address a number of technical issues in the measures,” said Mr. Mark Lambrecht, Assistant Director for National Conservation Lands and Community Partnerships, Bureau of Land Management.

The hearing featured witnesses from the USDA Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Vista Outdoor and the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable. To read their testimony click here.

To watch the hearing in full, please click here.