First-Ever Outdoor Recreation Specific Bill Passes House Committee
The Expanding Public Lands Outdoor Recreation Experiences (EXPLORE) Act passed the House Natural Resources Committee on January 17 by unanimous consent.
The EXPLORE Act is historically significant as it is the first-ever outdoor recreation specific bill package and does not cost taxpayer dollars. The bipartisan legislation will boost local and national economies, give more Americans—especially those in underserved areas—greater access to green spaces and public lands and waters, while also modernizing policies and procedures to support the recreation businesses that connect people to outdoor experiences. The EXPLORE Act is a companion to a similar package passed in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last year, America’s Outdoor Recreation Act (AORA).
This passing of this act underscores the momentum the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR), along with the American Horse Council (AHC) and other industry partners have built over the past few years to advance bipartisan policies that improve access and transform outdoor recreation opportunities. The outdoor recreation industry, which in 2022 was valued at $1 trillion by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, was instrumental in passing the Great American Outdoors Act in 2022, which was one of the greatest public lands and waters packages to become law in the history of our nation.
“The AHC supports the EXPLORE Act because it protects access for horses and packers on public lands,” says Julie Broadway, President of the American Horse Council. “Maintaining and expanding trail access on public lands ensures the next generation of horseback riders can explore and recreate safely alongside other users. The inclusion of language to identify and adopt policies to promote conflict avoidance on multiple use trails is extremely important for the welfare of all users, and especially those who are riding or packing. AHC also commends the inclusion of the MVP Act (Military and Veterans in Parks Act) which holds the potential to expand access for Veterans and Active-Duty military as there are proven therapeutic benefits associated with outdoor recreation and Equine assisted service/therapy.”
The AHC applauds the hard work of industry leaders and the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable.
“(This) marks a major advancement for the future of outdoor recreation in the United States,” says Jessica Wahl Turner, the ORR president. “With the House Natural Resources Committee’s markup of the EXPLORE Act, we are moving closer to enacting legislation that will revitalize our approach to recreation management and access. This bipartisan effort, led by Chairman Bruce Westerman and Ranking Member Raul Grijalva, is a testament to the ongoing dedication to not only preserving, but also enhancing the outdoor experiences available to every American. The EXPLORE Act brings modern solutions to the forefront, ensuring that our green spaces and outdoor places are more accessible and enjoyable for all. It’s a forward-thinking move that aligns with the ever-growing enthusiasm for outdoor activities and addresses the need for our policies to reflect current and future outdoor engagement.”
ORR and its members celebrate this milestone and urge swift passage of the EXPLORE Act through the full House and Senate, for the benefit of our public lands, waters, and the communities that thrive because of them.
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.
For more information on the bill and its progress through the House, visithttps://recreationroundtable.org/priorities/recreation-package/.
For more information about the American Horse Council, visit: https://www.horsecouncil.org