As the climate for public policy and environmental issues heats up, Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) has fired up its commitment and efforts to protect the pristine lands and waterways that are the lifeblood of the outdoor industry-the outdoors themselves.

OIA enters 2005 with three clear, key position statements and an assertive policy agenda. Following the Winter Market Show board meeting, OIA announced the three over-riding issue statements:

1. OIA opposes energy exploration and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, an outdoor icon and an important pristine wilderness destination.

2. Considering the potential impacts energy development will have on recreational resources and the important economic benefits recreation destinations provide, OIA urges Congress to require public land agencies to protect recreation resources when approving oil and gas leases. They also urge legislators to increase dollars for updating federal land use plans (many of which are 10 to 15 years old), so agencies can appropriately consider and plan for recreation use. The third component is to develop an interim process for protecting recreation opportunities from potential oil and gas development impacts while new plans are in development.

3. OIA continues to support full and permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). OIA reiterates its support for the original intent of the LWCF: a portion of proceeds from extracting non-renewable resources from federal lands should be reinvested through state and federal acquisition of lands critical to the vitality of our nation’s national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, and other public recreation destinations.

“Our research has identified the overwhelming importance of close-to-home recreational opportunities. If, or when-and there are rumors that it will be when-the President zeroes out essential funding, it will significantly impact our ability to grow, even sustain, let alone create close-to-home outdoor recreation in all 50 states,” said Myrna Johnson, OIA’s vice-president of government affairs. “We will be going to Congress to say, ‘This will not stand.’”

For 2005, OIA’s government affairs action agenda includes increasing dollars for trails, parks, and public lands and waters, protecting recreation destinations and quality experiences for enthusiasts, working for less expensive health care for outdoor industry employees, and outdoor business-friendly trade policies.