Outdoor Industry Association and American Hiking Society have delivered a letter to Congress from 60 member companies announcing unified support of the Bureau of Land Management’s National Landscape Conservation System.

The U.S. House of Representatives is set to vote on a bill this week that will grant permanent congressional recognition to the National Landscape Conservation System.  This vote is an important step toward assuring that the BLM’s Conservation System will have the same permanent Congressional recognition as other national treasures, like the National Park System.

Created in 2000, the Conservation System encompasses 26 million acres of extraordinary lands and waters, including more than 5,000 miles of National Scenic and Historic Trails and thousands of miles of other spectacular trails. Examples include the Pacific Crest Trail, which travels 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada, and the Continental Divide Trail, which travels 3,100 miles from Canada to Mexico. American Hiking’s Western Public Lands Initiative raises awareness of and seeks permanent protection for these vast, unique areas.

“These companies are sending a strong message to Congress and the American people,” said Gregory Miller, American Hiking Society president. “The BLM’s Conservation System is home to thousands of miles of the best hiking in America, and together we are committed to protecting the incredible recreational, natural and cultural resources – both for their intrinsic value and for the significant benefits the Active Outdoor Economy provides.”

Active outdoor recreation contributes more than $730 billion annually to the U.S. economy, including direct support for more than 6.5 million jobs. The vast majority of this powerful economic activity takes place on public lands.

“Outdoor recreation enthusiasts who enjoy these beautiful places fuel a vibrant economy driven by the outdoor industry – the companies that make equipment necessary for enjoyable experiences outside,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, president of OIA. “By supporting the National Landscape Conservation System, we are working together to ensure that future generations will have a myriad of opportunities for outdoor enjoyment.”