U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and John Barrasso (R-WY), Ranking Member of the Committee, introduced the Outdoor Recreation Act. This bipartisan legislation would increase and improve outdoor recreation opportunities across the nation while improving infrastructure and driving economic growth in rural communities.
“West Virginia is home to stunning public lands that bring tourists from around the nation to enjoy the beauty our state has to offer. My bipartisan Outdoor Recreation Act will support our state’s strong and growing outdoor recreation economy while providing an economic boost to our local communities. It will also ensure our public land management agencies can continue their legacy of protecting and preserving our state’s treasured public lands so that future generations can enjoy them as we have. I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure this legislation becomes law,” said Senator Manchin.
“Wyoming is home to some of the most incredible national parks and public lands in the country. The Outdoor Recreation Act will help Americans better enjoy everything Wyoming has to offer,” added Senator Barrasso. “Our bipartisan legislation will help modernize public campgrounds, establish shooting ranges on national forests, and ensure increased access to America’s public lands. The bill will also leverage private funding to create new recreational opportunities on our public lands."
The Outdoor Recreation Act is supported by a broad coalition of organizations, including the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) and the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR), of which the NMMA is a founding member.
“Amid a turbulent time in our history, outdoor recreation has provided millions of Americans with the physical and mental recharging they needed, said Frank Hugelmeyer, president of the NMMA. “From combating aquatic invasive species to ensuring recreation management is a top priority of the federal government, this measure will bolster outdoor recreation opportunities well into the future and I encourage all members of Congress to support this bill.”
“A bill as comprehensive and impactful as this has been a long time coming for the outdoor recreation industry. Its provisions are a win-win: they will ensure that all Americans continue to have access to high quality, sustainable outdoor recreation opportunities and that outdoor recreation businesses are able to efficiently and effectively connect their consumers to America’s public lands and waters and the gateway communities that surround them,” said Jessica Turner, President, Outdoor Recreation Roundtable.
The Outdoor Recreation Act would:
- Direct the Department of the Interior and the Forest Service to establish a pilot program for public-private partnership agreements to modernize campgrounds on Federal land.
- Ensure that outdoor recreation is considered by land managers alongside other uses of Federal land by directing the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to consider ways to improve recreation when developing and revising land management plans.
- Support rural communities adjacent to recreations areas by providing technical and financial assistance to local businesses, including hotels and restaurants, to support visitation.
- Direct the Forest Service to issue guidance for recreational climbing in designated Wilderness Areas and requires the Forest Service and BLM to designate many new shooting ranges on National Forests and BLM land.
- Aim to modernize recreation sites by directing agencies to work with the Rural Utilities Service to construct broadband internet infrastructure at certain recreation sites.
- Direct the Federal land management agencies to identify opportunities to extend the period of time recreation areas on Federal land are open to the public during shoulder seasons.
Following the introduction of the Outdoor Recreation Act, outdoor recreation businesses and associations sent a letterto the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee calling on members of Congress to enact additional, legacy legislation for our great outdoors by passing a first-of-its-kind recreation package. The letter may be viewed here.