How You Have Benefited from AOA's Efforts
America Outdoors Association Success Stories
Even with all the challenges, we have much to celebrate as an industry. Here are just a few of the highlights since our humble beginnings in 1991 that saved outfitters millions of dollars and, in some cases, their businesses.
Most of these issues will likely re-emerge in Congress or within agency administrative rulings in the future.
• We defeated an effort in Congress to repeal the prohibition on state and local taxes on navigable waterways, saving the industry millions in confiscatory taxes and fees levied by state and local governments. Repeal legislation had passed the House. AOA was successful in keeping the repeal language out of the Coast Guard Authorization bill in the Senate and in the final bill. Outfitters in Idaho, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Utah and elsewhere benefited.
• Legislation passed in 2015 prohibits the Department of Labor from implementing and enforcing the higher minimum wage for federal contractors. We also helped removed the DOL contract clause from many outfitter permits in National Forests. H.R. 2215 restores the seasonal recreational establishment exemption for outfitters on public lands and with traveling camps.
• Recently Congress proposed legislation requiring all drivers of 9 to 15 passenger vans to carry a commercial driver’s license when vans cross state lines, a requirement which could have been extended to intrastate van transportation since many states adopt federal standards. AOA’s work on Capitol Hill led to removal of that provision from the Highway Bill which subsequently passed Congress.
• AOA led the industry response to new Forest Service permitting directives issued in 2007 which would have disrupted business operations for many special use permittees and eliminated outfitters operating on temporary permits. We also overturned the Forest Service proposal to require guides to submit finger-prints to the FBI as part of background check screening.
• We reversed efforts to require permittees in National Forests to pay road-use fees in addition to permit fees. The final FLREA bill passed in 2004 specifically prohibits those fees and fees for biological monitoring under the Endangered Species Act.
• AOA successfully pushed for ten-year permit terms and categorical exclusions upon permit renewal for Forest Service and BLM permits in 2004 and 2005. Previously permits were issued for no longer than 5 years.
• In 2012, AOA led the effort to revise Forest Service permit health and safety clauses which presented unreasonable liability to permit holders. A similar provision in National Park Service contracts was revised in 2015 as a result of AOA’s efforts.
• Preferential right of renewal for outfitters operating under contract in national parks was written into the National Park Omnibus Management Act of 1998 as a direct result of several years of work by AOA.
• In 2004, the National Park Service proposed issuing Commercial Use Authorizations by lottery from among qualified applicants. AOA was instrumental in helping overturn that proposal.
• AOA had been a leader in recreation policy-making including most recently as a principal partner in a coalition promoting legislation to improve trail maintenance and stewardship in National Forests, which is expected to pass Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support.
• AOA continues to help many members understand new federal regulations and requirements by staying up-to-date on the many changes that occur on transportation, labor, permitting, recreation, tax and fee issues.
• AOA produced an industry leading paddlesports orientation DVD for customers of paddlesports businesses, which has been adopted by many members.
• AOA has helped coordinate industry responses for outfitters to hostile management plan changes in National Parks, Forests and on State managed rivers.
• AOA continues to provide members with a high level of industry-specific marketing and management training at the annual conference, which is attended by 700 industry professionals each year.
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.David L. Brown, Vice President for Government Affairs