Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer and President Donald Trump ordered relief from an Obama-era regulation that harmed the guides and outfitters who provide seasonal tours on the nation’s waterways.
On the day before the holiday weekend, Trump signed an exemption from Executive Order 13658 for Recreational Services on Federal Lands for tour operators.
Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, who will implement the order, praised the president’s decision.
“President Donald J. Trump is a businessman and a job creator who knows that government one-size-fits-all approaches usually end up fitting nobody,” Zinke said in a press release announcing the order.
“The order will have a positive effect on rural economies and American families, allowing guides and outfitters to bring tourists out on multi-day hiking, fishing, hunting, and camping expeditions, without enduring costly burdens,” Ryan said. “The outdoor recreation sector is a multi-billion dollar economic engine, and the more people able to enjoy our public lands, the better.”
Trump’s executive order says, in part:
Executive Order 13658 of February 12, 2014 (Establishing a Minimum Wage for Contractors), established a minimum wage to be paid by parties who contract with the Federal Government and applies to outfitters and guides operating on Federal lands. These individuals often conduct multi-day recreational tours through federal lands and may be required to work substantial overtime hours. The implementation of Executive Order 13658 threatens to raise significantly the cost of guided hikes and tours on Federal lands, preventing many visitors from enjoying the great beauty of America’s outdoors.
Seasonal recreational workers have irregular work schedules, a high incidence of overtime pay, and an unusually high turnover rate, among other distinguishing characteristics. As a consequence, a minimum wage increase would generally entail large negative effects on hours worked by recreational service workers.
Trade groups who support outdoor vendors such as guides and outfitters also praised the pre-summer executive order.
“Our sincere appreciation to President Trump and Secretary Zinke for this job-saving action,” David Brown, vice president of America Outdoors Association, said. “Because we are in the backcountry 24/7 and on duty much or all of that time, E.O. 13658 was ill-conceived for businesses who cannot bring on a second or third shift to control overtime.”
Mac Minard, executive director of the Montana Outfitters and Guides Association and chairman of the Professional Outfitters and Guides of America said the order “removed what was an impossible compliance issue and therefore a monumental liability for the nations Guides and Outfitters.”
“Attending to the health safety and welfare of clients on an outfitted trip begins at the trailhead and ends days later when everyone has safely returned; compliance with time accounting measures required by E.O. 13658 was impossible in this work environment,” Minard said.
“Fishing guides play a significant role in ensuring Americans have opportunities to enjoy our nation’s tremendous fisheries resources, and in helping to support recreational fishing’s $115 billion economic impact,” Glenn Hughes, president of the American Sportfishing Association, said. “We applaud President Trump for ensuring these services are not subject to harmful and unnecessary regulations, and for his continued leadership in support of the entire outdoor recreation community.”
National Parks are “major economic engines for local communities” that generate some $36 billion in economic output and $18 billion in visitor spending, the Department of Interior (DOI) press release said.
According to the DOI:
Outdoor recreation accounted for 2-percent of the United States economy, or $373.7 billion, in 2016, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Of that, $59.4 billion in activity is attributed to recreational vehicles, motorcycle, and motorized recreation enthusiasts. More than $38 billion is generated from fishing and boating. Hunting, shooting, and trapping contributes more than $15 billion to the economy. In all, more than 4 million people are employed in industries related to outdoor recreation.
DOI’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued commercial permits to more than 1,000 outfitters and guides in 2017.
Follow Penny Starr on Twitter.