I encourage you to read the whole thing but some highlights are as follows:
After years of being pushed aside by the louder voices and deeper pockets of oil and gas, coal and other extractive industries, the outdoor industry now thinks it has grown enough to deserve a seat at the table when it comes to deciding the future of our public lands.
The voice that had the most power for conservationists at the bargaining table was that of the “hook and bullet” crowd. Hunters and anglers were respected and listened to. Why? Because hunters and anglers are willing to pay to play. In fact they have contributed more than $300 million to federal coffers through self-imposed excise taxes on firearms, ammunition and fishing equipment. Those dollars have been used to help fund wildlife conservation efforts. They’ve also given the hook and bullet crowd credibility and clout.
The idea of a tax on outdoor equipment was proposed in the 1990s. The Seattle Times editorialized that it was a bad idea.we need to be paying our way like hunters and anglers and motorized recreationists (who pay an excise tax on gas that is used to support motorized trails). Because these groups pay into the system they get something in return. Right now outdoor recreationists aren’t really paying into the system, and it shows. We don’t get a lot of respect from our government so our voices often go unheard and our needs unmet.
I generally fall into the category of thinking that says we already pay taxes that include support for public lands, but those taxes are not being managed to their best use. Will adding more money to the pot make the spending decisions any wiser? Probably not.Supporters consider this a reasonable "recreational user fee" to pay for conservation efforts. But unlike on-site user fees at national parks, the backpack tax is not narrowly directed. Many of the items that would fall under the proposed tax are not used exclusively for recreational purposes. For example, there would be no distinction between school children's backpacks and backpacks for hiking and camping. Camera, film, bird baths and bird feeders would all be taxed, no matter how purchasers plan to use them.
But I'm intrigued by the concept that a unified group of outdoor enthusiasts may get a more powerful and centralized voice provided by a so-called backpack tax that might help push the land agencies to consider the priorities of the outdoor recreation "lobby" more seriously.