Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders speaking at the opening of the new Visitor Center at Pinnacle Mountain State Park.

Governor Sanders Participating at the National Outdoor Recreation Executive Forum

Fleet Feet Little Rock

(This article has been updated at

The Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR) is organizing the first-ever cross-segment CEO-level Forum for the outdoor recreation industry in Washington, D.C. This initiative is part of ORR’s ongoing efforts to bring industry leaders and government officials together for thought leadership. The conference aims to raise awareness about the biggest challenges and opportunities facing the industry and to develop collective strategies to address them.

This morning, the office of Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced that she will be participating in a moderated discussion with U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper (D-CO) and North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum at 4 pm EST. The discussion is titled “Leading the Way: The Future of Recreation Leadership”. During the session, the three leaders will highlight key ways they have promoted outdoor recreation in their respective states and will also discuss opportunities to expand the recreation economy in the future. The panel will also feature Katherine Andrews, Director of Outdoor Recreation, Arkansas, and Chair of Confluence of States. Leland Vittert, the Chief Washington Anchor of NewsNation, will be moderating the session.

The event will also feature a panel discussion on the “State of the Outdoor Recreation Economy”. Among the speakers will be Tom Walton, CEO of the Runway Group, who hails from Arkansas. The panel will explore various leading industry segments and discuss the landscape of the recreation economy in 2024. Topics will include inventory health, trade and labor, supply chain shifts, competitiveness overseas, and how new investments and collaborations can move the industry forward. Other members of the panel include U.S. Representative Don Beyer (D-VA), Aine Denari – President of Brunswick Boat Group, and Bob Martin – President & CEO of THOR Industries.

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In an article penned by Governor Sanders yesterday in the Washington Examiner, she made the case for passing the EXPLORE Act. This legislation is supported widely in the outdoor recreation industry.

Arkansas Cycling & Fitness.

The Outdoor Industry Association said about the bipartisan legislation passing in the House of Representatives last month, “We are thrilled to see Congress taking action to ensure each American has the opportunity to enjoy outdoor spaces in their own community, bolster economic growth, and advance mental and physical health benefits for all,” said Kent Ebersole, president of Outdoor Industry Association. “The outdoor recreation economy continues to soar to new levels, accounting for over $1 trillion in consumer spending and demonstrating participant growth for the eighth consecutive year. This is an important inflection point. We must modernize, preserve, and increase access to the public lands and waterways – regardless of where someone lives or works – and support more than five million employees who help drive our industry forward.”

In her article, the Governor said, “Tourism is Arkansas’ second largest industry, contributing $9.2 billion to our economy in 2022. Outdoor recreation plays a big role in welcoming tourists to our state. The EXPLORE Act promises to grow our outdoor economy by improving public land amenities and inviting more Arkansans and tourists to these spaces.” she also stated, “…at no cost to the taxpayer. In Arkansas, this legislation would open overnight campgrounds and expand parking lots and other facilities across the state. Nationwide, it would streamline permits and reduce fees for outfitters and guides, help build and maintain hiking paths, biking trails, rock climbing routes, and other amenities, and increase accessibility for visitors through expanded broadband and other modern technology. It would also help groups such as veterans, service members, families, and those with disabilities access public lands. Every state — and every American — would benefit.”

Both Arkansas’ political and business leadership have placed themselves in the middle of the outdoor recreation industry as a growth point for the state’s economy.

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(Lead image, Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders speaking at the opening of the new Visitor Center at Pinnacle Mountain State Park)


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