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Outdoor Industry, Feds Discuss Future and Funding

The Outdoor Recreation Roundtable’s annual Partners Outdoors forum recently brought together more than 150 recreation industry leaders, plus federal agency and conservation partners, to discuss building the recreation workforce through diversified talent, training for anticipated skills gaps, and enhancing career pathways. The event also included sessions on the future of recreation funding, management, and policy.

The MIC’s Scott Schloegel, senior vice president of government relations, hosted a session on “The Future of Surface Transportation Legislation to Drive the Recreation Economy.” He discussed various transportation and infrastructure bills currently proposed, the impact each bill would have, how these bills might be funded, and how these bills might pass.

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Schloegel also highlighted a critical program for outdoor recreation, the Recreational Trails Program, and how its funding level of $84 million is only a fraction of the $270-plus million in taxes paid by off-highway recreational users each year.

“With record sales of off-highway vehicles, motorcycles, side-by-sides, ATVs, and snowmobiles over the past 18 months of the pandemic, I’m sure the amount of gas taxes paid has gone way up,” Schloegel said. “So the ORR and the Coalition for Recreational Trails have been looking for ways to plus-up funding and get back more of the gas tax dollars we already pay into the Highway Trust Fund.”

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