Whether your office is white water or blue sky, craggy mountains or flowering meadows, we invite you to join us. Become a member of America Outdoors, the association of outdoor recreation operators.

For over three decades, we have connected America’s outfitters to the trends, to the intelligence, and to each other. We are passionate about supporting the growth and sustainability of outfitting businesses like yours. Join us to be Where Outfitters Thrive.


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How has america outdoors helped outfitters?

see a few examples of the work AO has done to keep our industry Thriving

  • Short-haul Exemption. In 2021, America Outdoors successfully advocated for a short-haul exemption for operators providing recreational activities, who cross state lines in 9-15 passenger vans with or without trailers, and who operate within a 150 air-mile radius of the outset of the trip, compliance with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration rules and regulations is no longer required. 

  • Paycheck Protection Program. In 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, AO successfully pushed to adjust the Paycheck Protection Program so it sustained seasonal recreation establishments, dramatically increasing the size of the loan that outfitters were able to obtain.

  • Higher minimum wage for federal contractors. In 2018, AO successfully eliminated the requirements of Executive Order 13658, which required a higher minimum wage and overtime for federal permit holders and mandated unsustainable levels of overtime pay for backcountry outfitters.

  • Taxes on navigable waters under federal authority.  In 2010, AOA defeated an effort in Congress to repeal the prohibition on state and local taxes and fees on navigable waterways when non services are provided to enhance safety and security. AO worked hard to successfully remove the provision prior to the bill’s final passage, saving outfitters millions in fees and taxes.

  • CDL for van drivers.  In 2009, Congress proposed legislation requiring all drivers of 9 to 15 passenger vans to carry a commercial drivers’ licenses (for vans crossing state lines), a requirement which could have been extended to intrastate van transportation since many states adopt federal standards.  AO’s work on Capitol Hill led to removal of that provision from the Highway Bill which subsequently passed Congress.

  • Forest Service Permitting.  In 2007, AO led the industry response to Forest Service permitting directives that 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. 

  • Fee prohibitions for ESA monitoring and road use fees.  We reversed efforts to charge permittees in National Forests road-use fees in addition to permit fees, a provision that was in the proposed Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act of 2004. The final bill specifically prohibited those fees and fees for biological monitoring under the Endangered Species Act. 

  • AO successfully pushed for ten-year permit terms and permit renewal for Forest Service and BLM permits in 2004 and 2005.  Prior to the ten year permit, permits were issued for no longer than 5 years.

  • In 2012, AO led the effort to revise the 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.

  • AO successfully pushed-back on an effort by some in the U.S. Coast Guard to implement vessel inspections and licensing for whitewater rafts on federally navigable waters.

  • 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 AO. We also worked on the subsequent rule-making to ensure that this provision was not watered-down.  In 2016 AOA successfully exempted outfitters from the Visitor Management Improvement Act, which would have allowed NPS to bypass the preferential right of renewal requirement in the 1998 Act.

  • In 2004, the National Park Service proposed issuing Commercial Use Authorizations by lottery from among qualified applicants.  AO was instrumental in helping overturn that proposal and sat on the Committee that adopted current interim guidelines for CUA’s.

  • AO continues to work on passage of the SOAR Act. SOAR reauthorizes the outfitter permitting authority for the BLM, Forest Service, USFWS, and Bureau of Reclamation and streamlines permitting processes.  AO testified in support of the legislation at a House Resources Committee hearing on September 19th, 2019.

  • AO had been a leader in recreation policymaking, including most recently as a principal partner in a coalition promoting legislation to improve Trail maintenance and stewardship in National Forests, which passed Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support.  The National Forest Trails Stewardship Act authorizes a pilot program to provide fee credits to outfitters who execute approved trail maintenance.

When you join America Outdoors, your membership ensures outfitters have a voice. America Outdoors works on your behalf to monitor federal regulations and requirements by staying up to date on the changes that occur related to transportation, labor, permitting, recreation, tax and fee issues.




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