Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke Touts Increased Partnerships, Celebrates American-made Products

Washington, D.C. – July 19, 2017 – Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and other senior federal officials met with representatives of the outdoor recreation industry at the U.S. Department of the Interior yesterday to discuss how the use of public-private partnerships can help improve visitor experiences on America’s public lands and waters.

“One of my top priorities is to expand recreational access to public lands and waters. Today I’m excited to announce that, for the first time, the Department of the Interior will host a recreation advisory committee dedicated to looking at public-private partnerships across all public lands, with the goal of expanding access to and improving the infrastructure on public lands,” said Secretary Zinke. “We already have thousands of private partners who operate on federal lands. Whether it’s the iconic Jammers in Glacier National Park, the historic El Tovar lodge at the Grand Canyon, or the kayaks that you can rent on the Potomac River, American workers are at the heart of helping American families experience our great outdoors.”

Thom Dammrich, President of the National Marine Manufacturers Association and a leader of the Outdoor Recreation Industry Roundtable (ORIR) began the meeting by introducing almost 30 offers of private investment on public lands totaling more than $80 million, calling them “just the first wave of thousands more opportunities that will emerge over the next few months.” National Park Hospitality Association (NPHA) President Terry MacRae outlined 19 proposed projects in national parks alone. These projects will help improve visitor experiences by modernizing accommodations, expanding connectivity, improving campgrounds, adding new wervices and more.

Outdoor recreation is vital to the economic and healthful well-being of America. The industry generates $887 billion in direct spending and supports 7.6 million jobs across all 50 states. Secretary Zinke, representatives of the Outdoor Recreation Industry Roundtable (ORIR), key national park concessioners and Members of Congress discussed how improving infrastructure, encouraging innovation, and developing new and enhanced public-private partnerships will give the American people more opportunities to enjoy healthy, active fun on their public lands and waters, while helping outdoor recreation continue to grow as a powerful and positive economic force in America.

Public-private partnerships have existed on public lands and waters for more than a century and currently provide a vast array of services across the country. From the iconic lodges of our national parks, to world-class ski resorts on national forests, federal agencies and private industry have a proven history of working together to provide great activities on public lands. Expanding partnerships – especially at campgrounds – would allow park rangers to focus on welcoming visitors with a great experience, rather than on less mission-focused activities like fee collection and trash collection.

Following the meeting, Secretary Zinke led the group to Simón Bolivar Park and a showcase of American-made outdoor recreation products as part of “Made in America Week.” There are more than 100,000 manufacturing jobs provided by the recreation industry – producing boats, RVs, off-road vehicles, outdoor equipment and more.

ORIR, NPHA and experienced partners across the country pledged to collaborate with the Department of the Interior and other federal land management agencies. They offered innovative solutions and expanded partnerships to advance a shared vision of increasing access to modern recreational opportunities and enjoyable experiences for all visitors to federal lands.