Zinke introduces Rec Advisory board

Star Staff

At a meeting this week with the Congressional delegation from Indiana, a state that is the heart of America’s outdoor recreation industry, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced his intent to create a new advisory committee that will focus on expanding public-private partnerships on America’s public lands.

The Secretary hosted a roundtable meeting focused on leveraging public-private partnerships to improve visitor experiences on public lands and waters, while also helping to reduce the Department’s maintenance backlog. Public-private partnerships are already employed extensively across the National Park Service and other agencies, from managing campgrounds and restaurant management to providing kayak and RV rentals.

“One of my top priorities is to expand recreational access to public lands and waters,” Zinke said. He said the goal of the committee will be to identify ways to expand access to and improve infrastructure on public lands.

“Whether it’s the iconic Jammers in Glacier National Park, the historic El Tovar lodge at the Grand Canyon, or the kayaks that you can rent on the Potomac River, American workers are at the heart of helping American families experience our great outdoors,” Zinke said in a news release.

Members of the outdoor industry presented varied proposals, including expanding Wi-Fi connectivity in parks, upgrading visitor accommodations and expanding visitor services.

Outdoor recreation is vital to the economic and physical well-being of America and its citizens. According to industry analysis, the outdoor recreation industry generates $887 billion in direct spending and supports 7.6 million jobs in the U.S..

“We have wonderful (industry) partners who proudly make their outdoor products in America. We can leverage these partners to help address the maintenance backlog on things like boat ramps, RV hookups, campgrounds, and cafeterias as long as the government is a willing collaborator,” Zinke said.