Bipartisan EXPLORE Act introduced in U.S. House of Representatives

Bipartisan EXPLORE Act introduced in U.S. House of Representatives

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Congressman Bruce Westerman (AR-R) and Congressman Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) introduce the Expanding Public Lands Outdoor Recreation Experiences (EXPLORE) Act.

The U.S. House of Representatives announced the introduction of the EXPLORE Act with strong bipartisan support of 22 members yesterday, supported by the collaboration of House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Bruce Westerman (R-AR) and Congressman Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ).

Photo Courtesy of Outdoor Recreation Roundtable.
Photo Courtesy of Outdoor Recreation Roundtable.

“This is a commonsense, no-cost bill that will improve access to green spaces and outdoor places in every state in the country,” said Jessica Wahl-Turner, President of Outdoor Recreation Roundtable. “We continue to see growing interest in outdoor recreation, but many of the policies supporting outdoor recreation and the industries that make it possible are outdated. Thanks to bill sponsors Congressmen Bruce Westerman (R-AR) and Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), this legislation will provide federal agencies with new tools they need to address recreation management and help more Americans reap the benefits of time spent outside, all while protecting the precious public lands and waters that make it all possible. This is a much-needed and historic step forward.”

According to the ORR, the EXPLORE Act would

  • Enable permit streamlining to ease burdens on outfitters and guides and improve access to outdoor experiences;
  • Improve access to recreation on public lands and waters;
  • Ensure access to green spaces in underserved communities;
  • Develop, improve, and complete long-range trails; and
  • Invest in rural economic development.

ORR Senior Program Director Ambreen F. Tariq spoke at a press event to celebrate this transformative legislation, which not only boosts local and national economies, it also gives more Americans — especially those in underserved areas — greater access to green spaces and public lands and waters while updating antiquated policies and procedures that support the recreation businesses who connect people to amazing outdoor experiences.

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This morning’s Subcommittee on Public Lands hearing at 10 AM EST will include several speakers including Katherine Andrews, Director, of the Arkansas Office of Outdoor Recreation. You can watch the hearing here. Read the entire bill here.

Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) President Kent Ebersole today released the following statement commending the introduction of the Expanding Public Lands Outdoor Recreation Experiences (EXPLORE) Act in the U.S. House:

Ozark Outdoor Supply

“We are thrilled to see Congress taking bipartisan action to ensure each American has the opportunity to enjoy outdoor spaces in their own community, bolster economic growth, and advance mental and physical health benefits for all, and thank House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Westerman and Ranking Member Grijalva for their leadership on this bill. The outdoor recreation economy continues to soar to new levels, accounting for over $1 trillion in consumer spending and demonstrating participant growth for the eighth consecutive year. This is an important inflection point. We must modernize, preserve, and increase access to the public lands and waterways – regardless of where someone lives or works – and support more than five million employees who help drive our industry forward.”

For more information on the bill and its progress through the House, visit https://recreationroundtable.org/priorities/recreation-package/. To see a full list of quotes and supporting organizations, visit https://recreationroundtable.org/explore-act-supporters-and-quotes/.

Keep up with other outdoor recreation legislation like the America’s Outdoor Recreation Act.

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2 Responses

  1. Just another layer of Federal bureaucratic regulation and meddling telling us they are fixing problems of access to the National forests and National Parks of Arkansas and Missouri.

    Nearly 100% of the supporters are recreation gear manufacturers. I don’t see the volunteer trail maintenance organizations such as the Ozark Trail Association, the Friends of the Ouachita trail association, the Ozark highlands trail association listed as supporters of the bill but the for profit members of the Professional Trail Builders Association are listed! Arkansas Outside is not listed as a supporter nor does this report signal support from Arkansas Outside!

    People can learn of access to the national forests and recreation area, and parks by the numerous websites and volunteer groups such as Gaia, Alltrails, Hiking Project, Facebook groups, TAKAHIK River Valley Hikers, State Parks, and 100’s of other groups including the above listed associations. There is no access problems that I can see and that is good enough for me for the 20 years plus that these groups have been in existence!

    I ask you, when has any legislation been a “no-cost bill”? Just implementing a 221 page piece of legislation will cost money. The bill specifically states that land should be acquired for creating parking areas. See SEC. 154. And an effort to restore campsites with full hookups for giant RV’s. See SEC. 124. And an effort to install cell towers for Broadband Connectivity on Federal Recreational Lands and Waters. See SEC. 141.

    Is this bill to just pave the way for the National Parks to be the Next Destination for Illegal Immigrant Tent Cities or to prevent it? Why doesn’t the House Committee on Natural Resources enact legislation to prevent tent cities in our national parks.

    https://townhall.com/tipsheet/katiepavlich/2023/09/27/where-do-they-want-to-build-a-tent-city-for-illegal-immigrants-n2629033

    How much money was donated to the bill sponsors campaigns by the bill supporters listed? Is this bill for the “For profit companies” or is the bill for We the hikers, cyclists, equestrians, boaters, canoers, kayakers, hunters, fishermen, rock climbers, campers, and People citizens in their state who all can currently access the public lands just fine .

    https://recreationroundtable.org/explore-act-supporters-and-quotes/

    If anything should be done: It is to turn over the stewardship of the national forests to the state in which it lies and provide funding for property tax based upon the acers of public land within the county to support the county road, school, sheriff, and other services infrastructure necessitated by the public land. We do not need more federal involvement in Arkansas or Missouri.

    Enough said!

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