In August, the Bush administration and Forest Service officials dramatically reduced the government's assessment of how much recreation on national forest land contributes to the American economy, from nearly $111 billion to $11 billion. This is only one move that highlights the fact that in almost every struggle between recreation interests and extractive industry interests, one of the major issues is economic impact. In response, OIF contracted Southwick Associates, Inc. and Harris Interactive to conduct a study that quantifies the impact recreation resources have on a local economy.

The study will focus on both direct and indirect impacts of active outdoor recreation in the United States – how many jobs will be created or lost, how much money will flow in or out of a community. OIF’s Recreation Economy Study is intended to equip business leaders, policy makers, the media, and the American people with the facts about the role active recreation plays in the US Economy. The final report will also include existing economic impact case studies.

In other news, late last week, the National Park Service proposed changes to the rules governing Park management. While these changes are not as broad as those proposed by Paul Hoffman, a deputy assistant secretary at The Department of the Interior, in a memo leaked to the NY Times (See BOSS_0538), they do weaken the environmental protections in place today. The NPS also started a period for public comment. In September, OIA members wrote to Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton, opposing changes that would reduce the quality of experience for hikers and paddlers in National Parks.

According to OIA, both the House and Senate plan hearings to review the proposed new rules in the next few weeks. OIA is thoroughly reviewing the latest proposed rules and will coordinate industry comments on them, with an eye to ensuring that new rules do no harm to the parks.