Looking Ahead: Help Restart the Recreation Economy After the COVID-19 Lock-Down Ends!
We want to thank our ARRA members who recently weighed in during multiple ARRA campaigns with Congress and governors to support recognizing powersports vehicles as essential services. While many of us think of OHV use as just for recreation, OHVs are used for daily law enforcement, search and rescue operations, and transportation for essential employees to get to and from their lifesaving jobs. If you have not taken action, you can still send messages to your governor by visiting ARRA’s Action Center.
Economic recovery may seem far away considering how much work is left to be done to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it’s important that we understand we will get through this and we need to start thinking about how we can restart the recreation economy that we all enjoy and may earn our livelihoods from. After all, now is the time when Congress is looking into further relief efforts that we may be able to influence.
A possible phase four package of Federal relief legislation is now being considered and we expect action may begin on this front within the next few weeks when Congress comes back in session. Infrastructure may be a large component of a phase four bill, including Federal Highway funding. If this is the case, we want to be ready to continue to fight for increased Recreational Trails Program funds to help recharge the recreation economy after stay-at-home orders are lifted. So stay tuned!
We also wanted to let you know about some resources from friends in the OHV community:
- Our industry friends have put together a good reference page for any small businesses that may are effected by the COVID-19 pandemic, including how to secure Small Business Administration (SBA loans). They also have an interactive map of the U.S. which includes information ranging from what the current “stay at home” status may be, as well as which state OHV facilities may be currently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Those resources and more can be found here: https://mic.org/#/covid.
- The National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC) has some great resources and information on dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic including social distancing guidelines for OHV riding. They are also requesting feedback in understanding how your OHV recreation habits evolve while dealing with COVID-19. For more on this, please see their most recent news at: https://www.nohvcc.org/.
Stay safe out there! #RideItOut
Congress Passes $2 Trillion Coronavirus Stimulus Bill
On March 27, 2020, Congress passed HR 748, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). Later in the day, the President signed the more than $2 trillion bill (Public Law No: 116-136) which is the largest economic relief package in modern U.S. history. The timely passage will put in motion desperately needed financial relief for millions of Americans and sectors of the economy set back by the pandemic. Specifically, the legislation provides $350 billion to small businesses, $100 billion to hospitals; $500 billion to corporations, including airline companies and cruise lines; and about $150 billion for state and local stimulus funds.
The MIC conducted an overview of small business provisions in the CARES Act and outlined critical support that is available for small businesses in the Act. You can access the small business summary here.
You can also access additional detailed information here that MIC compiled to benefit their members.
Amid COVID-19 Concerns, Land Managers Close Recreational Areas
In accordance with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as local and regional partners and public health officials, certain states and federal land managers have closed various recreation facilities, including trails in some instances, to help limit the spread of COVID-19. Our industry partners are developing a list of closure statuses, which are included within the previously mentioned interactive map. Updates are ongoing. Feel free to reach out and let us know of any closures you become aware of to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Despite the closure of these facilities, multiple opportunities remain for the public to enjoy the outdoors as long as visitors heed orders and advice of local and state officials and the CDC and any state or local health directives. Many lands remain open for your responsible recreational activities. Please just do so while exercising proper precautions
by adhering to the CDC guidance to maintain a safe distance between yourself and other groups; wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze; and most importantly, stay home if you feel sick.
ARRA Files Comments on Proposed Rule Making to Modernize the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
Pursuant to the White House Council on Environmental Quality’s Request for Comments on Update to the Regulations Implementing the Procedural Provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) 85 Fed. Reg. 1684. (January 10, 2020), the Americans for Responsible Recreational Access (ARRA) respectfully submitted comments by the March 10, 2020 deadline.
ARRA applauds the Administration’s recognition to modernize its NEPA regulations for the first time in more than 40 years, which will create more efficient and effective environmental reviews that will strengthen the permitting process. Modernizing the NEPA regulations will reduce costs and time required to complete the permitting process, and strengthen relationships between federal and public partners.
You can access the ARRA comments here.
BLM Move to Colorado Still Under Investigation
At the request of House Natural Resources Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) the General Accountability Office (GAO) began examining the Bureau of Labor Management’s (BLM) move and reorganization plan in December of 2019.
The GAO’s preliminary report concluded that BLM did not adequately calculate costs, benefits and impacts of relocation, and failed to sufficiently involve “employees and key stakeholders” when devising the plan. Additionally, GAO found BLM failed to complete “a strategic workforce plan that demonstrates how it will recruit for and fill vacant positions resulting from the relocation” of more than 170 D.C.-based employees to Colorado and other Western states.
Critics have contented the move to Grand Junction, CO would create a brain drain of institutional knowledge by potentially losing senior-level staffers. The GAO report confirmed that only 80 employees out of about 174 D.C.-based staffers who were directed to relocate — about 45% — have agreed to do so. The other roughly 94 employees retired or left the bureau. However, in a recent appearance before the Senate Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, Interior Secretary Bernhardt stated BLM is having no problem finding qualified people to fill the vacant positions in Grand Junction and elsewhere in the West
The Government Accountability Office will continue investigating the BLM’s reorganization plan and could issue a second report on its findings in April.