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Outdoor Industry Highlights Impacts Of Climate Change On Recreation Economy During Senate Budget Committee

Washington, D.C. – The Senate Budget Committee held a hearing on “Recreation at Risk: The Nature of Climate Costs.” The hearing spotlighted the impacts of climate change on outdoor recreation and the outdoor recreation economy—a sector that not only defines our national identity but is also a significant contributor to the U.S. economy and 2.2% of U.S. GDP. 

Jessica Wahl Turner, President of Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR), emphasized the economic implications of climate change on one of the nation’s largest and fastest growing industries. “The outdoor industry is a pillar of the American economy, generating $1.1 trillion in economic output and supporting nearly five million jobs in communities across the country. As we’ve heard today, climate change is increasingly impacting how people can recreate outside, and businesses of all types and all activities know the climate crisis needs to be addressed. We appreciate Congress acknowledging these challenges so we can work together on innovative solutions to ensure outdoor recreation can continue to support healthy people, places, and the planet.”

At the hearing, outdoor recreation industry leader Theresa McKenney, Director of Sustainability and Government Affairs at NEMO Equipment, said, “along with the risk to human lives and livelihoods, climate change poses a real and imminent threat to NEMO’s business; without safe, accessible, and enjoyable places to recreate, there is no longer a need for our gear.” 

McKenney also highlighted the historic bipartisan recreation package advancing in the Senate and House, the America’s Outdoor Recreation Act (AORA) and the Expanding Public Lands Outdoor Recreation Experiences (EXPLORE) Act.

“To improve protection of, access to, and inclusion in America’s public lands and waters, we ask Congress to support America’s Outdoor Recreation Act (AORA) and the Expanding Public Lands Outdoor Recreation Experiences (EXPLORE) Act, which invest in recreation and green infrastructure to enhance access to public lands. These bipartisan, bicameral bills include robust support for outdoor recreation in America,” said McKenney.

In addition to McKenney, the witnesses at today’s hearing included: Hilary Hutcheson, Outfitter; Gus Schumacher, American Cross-Country Skier, Olympian; Dr. Joao Gomes, Howard Butcher III Professor of Finance, Professor of Economics, and Senior Vice Dean of Research, Centers, and Academic Initiatives, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania; Scott Walter, President, Capital Research Center.

Full video of the hearing, as well as opening statements and witness testimony can be found on the Senate Budget Committee website.

During the hearing, members of the Committee and witnesses underscored the multifaceted impacts of climate change on outdoor recreation—from economic losses due to weather disruptions to the long-term effects on public health and infrastructure. It highlighted the need for a collective approach to mitigate these impacts and ensure the sustainability of outdoor recreation for future generations. ORR stands ready to work alongside Congress, industry stakeholders, and the public in crafting policies that safeguard our natural resources, sustain economic growth, and secure the future of outdoor recreation in the face of climate change.

For more information about the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable and its initiatives, please visit ORR’s website.

About Outdoor Recreation Roundtable

The Outdoor Recreation Roundtable is the nation’s leading coalition of outdoor recreation associations representing the more than 110,000 outdoor businesses in the recreation economy and the full spectrum of outdoor-related activities. The most recent data from the U.S. Department of Commerce shows that outdoor recreation generated $1.1 trillion in economic output (2.2% of GDP), 5 million jobs and comprises 3.2% of U.S. employees.

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