Washington, D.C. – March 1, 2017 – The United States Senate today confirmed U.S. Representative Ryan Zinke (R-MT) as the nation’s 52nd Secretary of the Interior by a 68-31 vote of bipartisan support. His confirmation drew praise from the Outdoor Recreation Industry Roundtable (ORIR), which strongly backed his nomination.
Rep. Zinke called himself “an unapologetic admirer of Teddy Roosevelt” during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee January 17. He said that the former president “had it right” when he placed millions of acres of federal lands under federal protection. And he directly linked the availability of those federal lands to the enjoyment of outdoor recreation. “Today, much of those lands provide Americans the opportunity to hike, fish, camp, recreate and enjoy the great outdoors,” he said. The committee approved Rep. Zinke’s nomination January 31 with bipartisan support by a vote of 16-6.
Secretary Zinke, as a lifelong outdoor enthusiast, hunter and angler, understands the importance of access to and funding for America’s public lands and waters, and the outdoor industry’s critical economic impact. He was a co-sponsor of the recently enacted Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact (REC) Act of 2016, which requires measurement of the economic impact of outdoor recreation and its role in the U.S. economy.
Secretary Zinke takes over a department that is responsible for 25 percent of the country’s surface area and exercises great influence on outdoor activities throughout the nation. The parks, refuges, trails, rivers and more that the Department manages attract hundreds of millions of visits each year.
The Department of the Interior has an annual budget of $13 billion and administers the Land and Water Conservation Fund, Sport Fish and Boating Trust Fund, Pittman-Robertson Program and other key programs providing more than $1 billion annually in grants to assist outdoor recreation experiences. The land and water it manages provide the foundation for much of the $646 billion outdoor recreation industry that directly supports some 6.1 million jobs.
ORIR voiced its support for Secretary-designate Zinke January 13 in letters to Senate leaders Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) explaining the importance of Zinke’s confirmation and urging swift action on his nomination. Those letters can be read at www.funoutdoors.com/ORIRUrgesAction.
ORIR leaders expressed immediate and enthusiastic support for the Senate’s confirmation vote.
“The sportfishing industry is pleased that Secretary Ryan Zinke will be leading the Department of the Interior,” said Mike Nussman, president and CEO, American Sportfishing Association. “As a Montanan and a sportsman, Zinke understands firsthand the importance of the outdoor recreation economy and the jobs and economic growth is provides for the nation. We applaud this new member of the President’s Cabinet.”
“The RV industry congratulates Secretary Zinke on his confirmation as Secretary of Interior,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, president of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). “Secretary Zinke understands the significance of the outdoor recreation economy and RVIA is committed to working in partnership with him to expand recreational access, address infrastructure needs, embrace public private partnerships, modernize federal campgrounds and create more jobs for American workers.”
“We look forward to working with new Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke, who has a proven track record of commitment to our public lands and waters. We are excited to work with him and his team to advance outdoor recreation for our country, grow U.S. recreational jobs, and ensure robust public access and treasured experiences for boaters and anglers across the nation,” said Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association.
“The Outdoor Recreation Industry Roundtable thanks the Senate for its vote confirming Ryan Zinke as Secretary of the Interior,” said Derrick Crandall, president of the American Recreation Coalition. “We are really looking forward to working with him and his team to advance the outdoor recreation sector, grow jobs in the U.S. and ensure that all Americans have access to healthy, active outdoor fun on their public lands and waters.”
OUTDOOR RECREATION INDUSTRY ROUNDTABLE – is a coalition of America’s leading outdoor recreation trade associations working to promote the policy and legislative reforms needed to grow the outdoor recreation economy. Roundtable members represent the thousands of U.S. businesses that produce vehicles, equipment, gear, apparel and services for the millions of Americans who enjoy our nation’s parks, waterways, byways, trails and outdoor spaces. Combined, the various business sectors within the outdoor recreation industry generate $646 billion-per-year in economic activity and provide an estimated 6.1 million direct jobs. Coalition members produce the eight largest recreation tradeshows in the U.S. and their members annually contribute $40 billion in federal excise tax, sales tax and duties.
The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) is the sportfishing industry’s trade association committed to representing the interests of the sportfishing and boating industries as well as the entire sportfishing community. We give the industry and anglers a unified voice when emerging laws and policies could significantly affect sportfishing business or sportfishing itself. ASA invests in long-term ventures to ensure the industry will remain strong and prosperous, as well as safeguard and promote the enduring economic, conservation and social values of sportfishing in America. ASA also gives America’s 46 million anglers a voice in policy decisions that affect their ability to sustainably fish on our nation’s waterways through Keep America Fishing®, our national angler advocacy campaign. America’s anglers generate more than $48 billion in retail sales with a $115 billion impact on the nation’s economy creating employment for more than 828,000 people.