The outdoor recreation community is huge. The outdoor recreation industry is equally large, employing many thousands of people and generating billions of dollars of economic activity each year (the Australian ski industry alone generates more than $1.8 billion a year and employs more than 18,000 people).

Yet the outdoor industry, taken as a whole, remains curiously silent on key issues like park protection, threats to wild areas and climate change. There are a few standouts, like Patagonia, but generally they’re missing in action on the key issues of our time.

Not so in the USA, where the election of the anti environment Trump administration has radically heightened the already active outdoor sector. With the mid term elections happening soon, which will have enormous implications for the balance of power in both houses of federal government (and hence Trump’s ability to implement his negative agenda), the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) has launched an impressive  #VoteTheOutdoors campaign to mobilise people concerned about climate and protecting wild nature.

The guide identifies ‘34 Races to Watch’, which not only affect local constituents but ‘could also impact federal and state outdoor recreation policies’. In an interesting move to increase the effect of local people expressing an opinion, the OIA also included Consumer Spending numbers in each candidates’ districts and states to show the extent of the outdoor recreation economy. They have provided official OIA endorsements for candidates in 13 areas where they feel it will make a difference in the legislative balance of power.

Candidates are assessed according to a score system then given a rating from A to F (fail). The rating covers four areas:

  • Whether the candidate supports protection of public lands from development
  • Their position on climate change
  • Whether they support the outdoor recreation economy, and
  • Whether they support trade and economic policies that help the industry to manufacture their products domestically, and support policies that promote sustainable products and supply chains.

The Outdoor Industry Association is a membership-driven trade organisation for the outdoor industry, with more than 1200 members (including manufacturers, retailers, distributors, suppliers, sales representatives, and nonprofits).

You can find the voters guide here.

Check here for other stories on campaigns and actions taken by the Outdoor Industry Association.


Take action

If you live in Australia, there is so much that you can do to add your voice to efforts to protect wild places and reduce climate change, which poses an existential threat to the places we love.

Here’s a few ideas:

  • Consider sending a message to the Prime Minister Scott Morrison, urging him to enact meaningful climate change policies. >> sign the open letter here.
  • Promote the #PlacesWorthProtecting concept through social media (tag in the PM Scott Morrison). >> Check here for details.
  • Sign up to support the call for new conservation reserves in Victoria – especially the Great Forest National Park and the Emerald Link in East Gippsland. >> sign the petition here.
  • Support the new branch of Protect our Winters. Stay tuned for details. Background on the launch available here.
  • Join or donate to any of the groups working to protect wild places. >> For instance, join your state branch of the National Parks Association.
  • attend one of the citizen science camps run by GECO in East Gippsland and add to our knowledge about threatened forests (and help get them protected). >> next camp is early November.