Obama signs Outdoor REC Act into law

Boaters leave Little River Marina in Moss Point as they head to the Pascagoula River.
Boaters leave Little River Marina in Moss Point as they head to the Pascagoula River. ttisbell@sunherald.com

President Barack Obama knows the importance of outdoor recreation to the U.S. economy.

Weeks before leaving office, Obama recently signed the Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact of 2016. The bill, also known as the Outdoor REC Act, passed the House of Representatives and the Senate last month.

The bipartisan Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact Act of 2015 was introduced in October 2015 by Sens. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.). The House companion bill, HR 4665, was introduced by Reps. Don Beyer (D-Va.), Dave Reichert (R-Wash.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.). The bill unanimously passed in the House and the Senate last month.

The legislation would instruct the Department of Commerce and federal land management agencies to provide statistics on how the outdoor industry, including recreational fishing and boating, contributes to the American economy. The law also will secure sportfishing industry jobs and recreational fishing’s economic impact are accounted for as part of the Gross Domestic Product.

The bill’s passage is also huge for anyone who hikes, bikes, skis, snowmobiles, paddles, boats, surfs or climbs.

“At a time when jobs and economic opportunity are high on everyone’s list, the Outdoor REC bill’s passage gives the outdoor recreation industry its own metric by which to quantify its impact on the nation’s economic activity,” American Sportfishing Association President and CEO Mike Nussman said in a press release

“We have advocated for years that recreational fishing and boating were significant economic drivers. It’s important to note that in many rural areas, where jobs are at a premium, it’s fishing, boating and other outdoor activities that provide steady employment for many people.”

The passage of the Outdoor REC Act was needed to make sure the outdoor economy — and it’s estimated 6 million jobs and $646 billion in economic activity — receives official government recognition for years.

“We appreciate that outdoor recreation is now formally being recognized by the federal government for its impact on jobs, business and the economy,” ASA Government Affairs Vice President Scott Gudes said. “Our industry is about opportunities and improving the quality of life for Americans. It is absolutely about jobs, business and the economy.”

James Jones: 228-896-2320, @_jkjones