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Oregon Senator Promotes Outdoor Recreation Economy in New Bill

Senator Ron Wyden released a discussion bill highlighting the need for further support for the nation's growing outdoor recreation economy.

A view into Oregon across the Columbia River on the Coyote Wall trail. Photo by austineats.

After hosting a number of listening sessions in his home state over the summer, Senator Ron Wyden has released a discussion bill highlighting the need for further support for the nation's growing outdoor recreation economy.

In Washington, the outdoor recreation economy is worth $21.6 billion annually and supports about 200,000 jobs. In Oregon, outdoor recreation is worth more than $10 billion.

The bill is the largest recent push to ask Congress to recognize its role in supporting this growing economic sector impacting our region.

Hope for joint recreation pass, improved funding for public lands

The discussion bill was a result of Wyden's tour of the "Seven Wonders of Oregon" during August's Congressional recess where he heard from outdoor enthusiasts, business owners and others about their desire to preserve the outdoors as an economic engine for generations to come.

The full bill can be read here. Ideas in the bill include:

  • A state and federal joint recreation pass that would eliminate the need for hikers to keep track of which land managers require which passes;
  • Requiring agencies to make online purchase available for all passes;
  • Retaining public lands-generated revenue for care of public lands through the Federal Lands  Recreation Enhancement Act;
  • Including recreation as an evaluation tool for Forest Service performance in addition to prioritizing recreation for federal land management agencies;
  • Tracking of the economic benefit of outdoor recreation through the Bureau of Labor and Statistics;
  • Protection for close-to-town recreation areas;
  • Support for volunteer trail maintenance;
  • And new grant programs to help fund outdoor recreation infrastructure.

Live in Oregon? How to add your voice

WTA has been a long-time supporter of many of these ideas, including a joint recreation pass, and will continue to monitor the progress of the bill. After the discussion phase, formal legislation will need to be drafted before the bill can be scheduled for a vote in Congress.

Oregon-based hikers can comment on the draft on Senator Wyden's website.

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