SMALL GUIDE COMPANIES AND OUTFITTERS BENEFIT
President Donald Trump has rolled back an Obama-mandated minimum wage requirement for outfitters and guides who operate on federal lands.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced the rollback on Friday while on a trip through South Dakota.
President Obama had enacted a $10.10 minimum wage requirement by executive order in 2014 for businesses that operate on federal lands, such as national parks, monuments, and recreational areas.
The mandate swept in outfitters and guides, including river, fishing, hunting guides, and operators engaged in multi-day expeditions, who were forced into an overtime wage structure that is inappropriate to their lifestyles. The rule applied to mountain guides and all their expedition assistants in places such as Denali National Park.
Still covered by the minimum wage rule are lodge and food service workers at establishments that have permits to operate on federal land.
“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. 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,” Zinke said.
“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 said.
“We objected to outfitters being in the executive order under Obama, and never got a bit of notice back from that administration,” said Rod Arno, executive director of the Alaska Outdoor Council. “It’s pretty hard to be a seasonal guide in Alaska, where our seasons are so short and intents, and you are on call 24-7 because of the dangers of weather and bears. The expense of compliance with Executive Order 13658 was harmful, if not impossible. A lot of guides are doing it as family businesses and are not paying themselves most of the time they’re actually working.”
Guides are typically paid by the day for outings that have wide variables. An experienced fly-fishing guide can make several hundred dollars a day, but a climbing guide may be paid according to his or her experience and the technical demands of the climb.
Most Alaska fishing lodges have a six-day programs, and guides can make up to $7,000 a month plus 10-15 percent tips, which they often share with lodge staff. Many of those guides are out-of-staters who then move on to guiding in the Lower 48 or all over the world.