America’s guides and outfitters are enthusiastic about President Trump’s exemption from Executive Order 13658 for Recreational Services on Federal Lands.
“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,” the exemption reads in part. “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.” P
“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,” said Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. “The President’s Executive Order, 'Exemption from Executive Order 13658 for Recreational Services on Federal Lands,' gives more flexibility to small guides and outfitters that operate in National Parks and other public lands.”
“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. The outdoor recreation sector is a multi-billion-dollar economic engine, and the more people able to enjoy our public lands, the better,” Zinke concluded.
Several organizations supporting guides and outfitters issued statements favoring the action.
“On behalf of the 5,000 Outfitter businesses represented by the Professional Outfitters and Guides of America, we offer our appreciation for the leadership of Secretary Zinke and the action of President Donald Trump. Because of this action, thousands will be able to enjoy and experience the natural wonders found in our National Treasures that are our Federal Public Lands,” said Mac Minard, Executive Director of the Montana Outfitters and Guides Association and Chairman of the Professional Outfitters and Guides of America.
“Our sincere appreciation to President Trump and Secretary Zinke for this job-saving action. 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,” said David Brown, Vice President, America Outdoors Association, a national association of outfitters and guides.
Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) previously introduced legislation to exempt the river guides and outfitters from the higher-wage order.
He said Friday that the Obama-era rule was “prohibitively expensive” for outfitters and didn’t make sense for guides who often go on multi-day trips and are not working a set eight-hour day.
“We’re grateful for it [the exemption] and so are a whole bunch of mom-and-pop river guides,” Stewart said in an interview. “These aren’t big companies. These are all little family-owned businesses; it’s been really, really difficult for them. It’s been hard on the people who want to work, too.”
Stewart said that because the guides are seasonal workers and mainly college students, their employment isn’t about making a living, but about extra cash.
The Presidential exemption applies only to outfitters and guides who operate on Federal lands and does not apply to lodging, food service or other businesses that operate on Federal lands.
Outdoor recreation accounted for $373.7 billion in 2016, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Hunting, shooting and trapping contribute more than $15 billion to the economy.