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CA Outdoor Industry: Roadless Area Release Act Would Hurt Wildernesss, Economy

February 13, 2012

California's outdoor-recreational industries are teaming up to send a message to Congress to reject legislation they say is an assault on public lands. The Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act by California Congressman Kevin McCarthy (R-Dist 22) would give developers access to 60 million acres of public lands, including 4.5 million acres in California.

Sally McCoy, CEO of CamelBak, balks at this idea. She says outdoor recreation contributes $46 billion a year to California's economy and supports more than 400,000 jobs across the state.

"Americans identify themselves as outdoor people. Not only the companies that actually sell products, but hotels on the way and restaurants, etc., benefit from a great, vibrant recreation economy."

McCarthy says his bill would return multi-use land management decisions to local communities. However, the Outdoor Industry Conservation Alliance warns that the sweeping legislation would undermine local efforts and remove protections for 61 million acres of roadless public lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management across the country.

Topher Gaylord, president of Mountain Hardwear, says 34 percent of California's population is comprised of outdoor enthusiasts. He also points out that the outdoor industry has been one of the few to grow during the recession.

"This industry has consistently outperformed in recessionary and down periods because the outdoor industry is not an industry that is a 'want' - it's a 'need' industry, and it's providing health and wellness to our consumers."

H.R. 1581 has been heard in a subcommittee; no additional hearings are scheduled.

More information is available at www.outdoorindustry.org.


Lori Abbott, Public News Service - CA