Outdoor recreation office bill advances to State Senate

AB 1111, which would create a new position to oversee recreational activities, earned Assembly’s approval.

SACRAMENTO—The latest attempt to create an Office of Sustainable Outdoor Recreation breezed out of the State Assembly, with the lower legislative house overwhelmingly approving Assembly Bill 1111 (AB 1111), May 29. Assemblywoman Laura Friedman’s proposal now moves on to the State Senate after her colleagues in the Assembly approved the Office of Outdoor Recreation by a 72-3 vote.

Friedman’s bill would create a new position within the governor’s office to support the state’s outdoor recreation economy, which includes activities such as boating, fishing, hiking and hunting. The new office could cost between $200,000 and $500,000 to create, according to the Assembly’s most recent legislative analysis. The state’s Department of Parks and Recreation, Department of Education and Health and Human Service Agency could also face additional (but yet to be determined) costs should the Office of Sustainable Outdoor Recreation be added.

Establishing an Office of Sustainable Outdoor Recreation, according to Friedman, would be a major boost to the state’s recreational economy.

“California has the largest outdoor economy in the nation and boasts some of the most spectacular places for outdoor recreation in the world. Our state economy depends on the more than 690,000 jobs that are supported by the outdoor recreation sector,” Friedman said, according to the Assembly’s most recent legislative analysis of AB 1111. “Yet there is not a central place in California government that is focused on bringing the expertise and experience of the nonprofit, corporate, government, and community-based leadership together to build upon and expand the impact of California’s outdoor recreation economy.”

Public access is a significant element of the proposal; whoever is appointed to lead the new office – should it be approved and created – would be tasked with enhancing, through policy recommendations, “recreational amenities and outdoor experiences, and equitable and inclusive access.”

The new head of the Office of Sustainable Outdoor Recreation would also be required “to work towards equitable access to the outdoors,” according to a legislative analysis of AB 1111.

Other activities the proposed office would oversee, should it ultimately be created, are:

  • Grow and promote outdoor recreation through collaborations with government, tourism entities and economic offices
  • Coordinate policies across state and local government agencies
  • Foster communications between government agencies and those providing outdoor recreation products and services
  • Identify the effects of climate change on recreation resources.

An advisory committee would also be created to support the office’s endeavors, if the current iteration of AB 1111 is eventually signed into law.

Outdoor recreational activities, according to AB 1111, generates more than $92 billion in annual consumer spending and creates more than 690,000 direct jobs.

“Supporters argue that creating a new Office of Sustainable Outdoor Recreation is a modest investment to support such an important part of California’s state economy,” the May 21 legislative analysis out of the Assembly stated. “The office will help increase and leverage current outdoor recreation sector benefits by coordinating with the outdoor recreation industry, working with the state’s economic development professionals, collaborating with recreation and tourism experts, and partnering with existing recreation and land management agencies and organizations.”

There is no filed opposition of the bill, according to the Assembly’s most recent legislative analysis.

Assembly and State Senator members had approved a similar attempt to create an office for outdoor recreational activities during the previous legislative session, but the bill was vetoed by then-Gov. Jerry Brown; the governor, in his veto message, stated the creation of an Office of Sustainable Outdoor Recreation would only add to California’s already clogged bureaucracy.

However there is a new person in the Governor’s Mansion, so there is a chance the proposed office makes into the law books.

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