Ron on Removing Roadblocks to Recreation
Ron last week heard from Oregon recreation business leaders and nonprofits about his new draft bill to ensure the state’s recreation economy continues to grow and create jobs in all corners of the state.
The draft bill follows up on the many strong suggestions that many of those same recreation companies and nonprofits made during Ron’s weeklong tour this summer of the state’s “7 Wonders” he did with Travel Oregon.
Ron stressed the need to update federal regulations for the 21st century so that recreation receives smarter consideration while always ensuring that natural icons maintain the protections they deserve.
“What we’re trying to do with this legislation is to give recreation a bigger place at the table,” Ron said at an Oct. 17 roundtable in Bend with U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer and officials from local recreation businesses and nonprofits. “This is a question of the times are changing.”
The draft bill would streamline and modernize recreation use permits for visitors, outfitters and guides in several ways, including reforms that would make all permits available online.
The bill would also increase volunteerism and prioritize maintenance work on public lands used most often for recreation, and require the U.S. Bureau of Labor to collect data on the impacts of recreation on the economy.
Travel Oregon estimates that travel and tourism in Oregon generates $10.3 billion annually for the state's economy and directly employs more than 101,000 Oregonians.
At that Bend roundtable, Travel Oregon chief strategy officer Scott West noted that removing roadblocks to outdoor recreation opportunities is key because of the large role that sector plays in his agency’s efforts to attract visitors to the state.
“Outdoor recreation has been a differentiator for Travel Oregon,” West said.
Attendees from Bend recreation businesses also welcomed efforts to fix the permitting process so that they can grow their job-creating businesses to even greater heights.
“We need changes,” said Cog Wild Bicycle Tours owner Melanie Fisher.
Ron also held a roundtable last week at Chris King Precision Components in Portland with U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, Congressman Blumenauer and local recreation companies and nonprofits to discuss Oregon’s “outdoor advantage” and how best to build on its strengths.
And a summary of Ron’s draft recreation bill is available here to read and to submit comments.