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Democrat Proposes New State Agency To Promote The Great Outdoors

February 3, 2019

A western Massachusetts legislator has filed a bill that would create a new state Office of Outdoor Recreation in order to encourage people to enjoy the outdoors.

Skiing, biking, fishing, horse riding, hiking, rock climbing, wildlife viewing, and hot-air ballooning all exist in Massachusetts, but not enough people know about them, says state Senator Adam Hinds (D-Pittsfield), according to the Greenfield Recorder.

Enter the Office of Outdoor Recreation, which would be under the existing state Executive Office of Environmental Affairs.

The bill would also create an Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund “providing competitive grant or loan opportunities to programs, projects and initiatives of organizations, businesses and other public or private entities determined to support or promote the mission of the office,” according to the original text of the bill.

In addition, the bill would “serve as a public resource and information center for the outdoor recreation industry” and would “collect, record and analyze data on the social, economic, health and resource impacts of outdoor recreation in the commonwealth, provided that said impacts shall include, but not limited to, the social, economic, health and resource impacts on youth, low-income, urban or disparate communities in the commonwealth,” the bill states.

The bill does not say how much money the state legislature would have to appropriate to pay for the new office.

Bill SD. 1613 has 18 sponsors. Seventeen are Democrats. The one Republican is state Representative David Vieira (R-Falmouth).

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