On July 18, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, members of the House and Senate RV caucuses and outdoor recreation industry leaders met and agreed on ways to leverage public-private partnerships to improve visitor experiences in public campgrounds, while also helping to reduce the Department of Interior’s maintenance backlog within the National Park Service (NPS).
The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) has been working with Secretary Zinke for months on ways to modernize NPS which culminated in a presentation to leaders from Capitol Hill and the Department of the Interior during Made In America Week.
“Northern Indiana is the RV Capital of the World, so Hoosiers know just how vital outdoor recreation is to growing our economy and creating good jobs for American workers,” said U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Ind.-2, who also serves as House RV Caucus co-chair, in a news release. “This opportunity to boost investment in outdoor tourism through public-private partnerships is a turning point for keeping America’s parks open for business and building even more American-made RVs and boats. I look forward to working with Secretary Zinke and RVIA to ensure RV manufacturers continue to play a key role in strengthening outdoor recreation and our nation’s economy.”
Walorski was joined in the meeting by fellow Indiana lawmakers, and RV Caucus members Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., and U.S. Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind.-3.
“Road trips are a proud American tradition, and the RVs that many families use for these great excursions are a renowned Hoosier product. More than 80% of all RVs are made in our great state. From engineering to manufacturing, Hoosier RVs keep Americans safe and comfortable while they’re out on the open road,” said Young. “It was a great privilege to join Secretary Zinke and the Outdoor Recreation Industry Roundtable (ORIR), including RV industry representatives, to discuss opportunities for improved collaboration to drive investment in the recreation sector and improve Americans’ access to our treasured natural resources.”
“The outdoor recreation industry creates thousands of jobs in Indiana and is a vital part of northeast Indiana’s economy,” said Banks. “I was honored to join Secretary Zinke last Tuesday to highlight how Hoosiers manufacture 80% of American-made RVs and how we can work together with private companies through public-private partnerships to promote visits to our national parks and public lands.”
Following the meeting, House RV Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Dennis A. Ross, R-Fla.-15, met with Secretary Zinke as he toured four RVs on display in front of the Department of Interior as part of Made in America Week.
“As a kid raised in the RV industry traveling the country and going through all of the National Parks, I am absolutely delighted that Secretary Zinke has decided to pursue public-private partnerships with our National Parks,” said Ross. “More than 9 million Americans own RVs and a quarter of a million people are employed in the industry. My home state of Florida is rich with National Parks and provides nearly $1 billion in economic output through the RV industry, with Tampa hosting the largest RV consumer show in North America and the largest single site RV dealership in America. Yet, our National Parks haven’t kept pace.
“Now we have an opportunity with our conservation friends, outdoor recreation friends, and RV industry friends to partner together to make sure we modernize our parks, where experienced concessionaires could finance and upgrade campsites on federal lands, while balancing vital conservation needs and keeping the iconic National Park Service look and feel. Park partnerships are a win-win-win solution for the American people, the U.S. economy, and federal land agencies. These partnerships would not only boost federal revenue and address backlogged maintenance, but better respond to the desires of Millennial, urban and traveling Americans and today’s RVers.
“As our national parks transition into their second century, I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress, fellow RV Caucus members and Secretary Zinke to determine the best way to modernize and improve our National Parks to allow for their preservation, conservation and enjoyment for generations to come.”
Senate RV Caucus Co-Chair Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., noted, “RVs are a symbol of America’s adventurous spirit, and I am proud to represent the hardworking Hoosier men and women of the RV industry in the U.S. Senate. It is crucial that we continue to promote outdoor recreation to grow our economy and ensure new generations of Americans enjoy our country’s natural resources.”
To view pictures of the event, click here.