Wyden Stresses Importance in his Recreation Bill of Enhancing Americans’ Ability to Access and Enjoy Public Lands

In an ENR Committee hearing, Wyden highlights his bipartisan Recreation Not Red-Tape Act

Video of Wyden’s remarks and exchange with witnesses is here.

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) this week made the case for how his bipartisan Recreation Not Red-Tape Act would remove barriers to outdoor recreation, increasing equitable access to public lands and boosting rural economies and jobs, during a U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on the bill. Witnesses voiced support for the legislation as a key tool to expand public land access.

“Recreation is a major economic engine and job creator for rural America—it’s a hugely important business in my state,” Wyden said. “The rules around recreation on public lands, however, haven’t kept up with the times. My bipartisan bill will streamline the rules when it comes to permitting and passes so we can wring more value out of opportunities to be outdoors and help our small businesses. And today’s hearing brings us one step closer to getting this done.”

Witnesses for the committee hearing on Thursday included U.S. Forest Service Deputy Chief Chris French; National Landscape Conservation System at the Bureau of Land Management Assistant Director Mark Lambrecht; Outdoor Recreation Roundtable Executive Director Jessica Turner; Government Relations at Vista Outdoor Vice President Fred Ferguson.

Wyden asked Turner about how his bill would help recreation-oriented businesses. Turner answered, “[The Recreation Not Red Tape Act] is a real tool for agencies during their planning process to look for recreation quality landscapes. … Businesses will really be motivated by that. The business sees this is going to be an area that’s managed for sustainable recreation for years. You’re going to get those guides and outfitters, you’re going to get the breweries that go along with it— you’re actually going to get the technology and healthcare companies that want to live, work and play near these great recreation assets.”

The Recreation Not Red Tape Act aims to build on and strengthen the current U.S. Forest Service permitting process, while also updating the system to meet the needs of the 21st Century. Wyden questioned Deputy Chief French on how this legislation would accomplish those goals and French said, “[The bill] addressed our concerns and the way we read it right now, it would be very compatible.” 

Video of Wyden’s remarks and exchange with witnesses are here.

Wyden’s bipartisan Recreation Not Red-Tape Act would:

·         Require the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to review their permitting processes for guides and recreation enthusiasts and improve efficiency.

·         Encourage military branches to inform servicemembers and veterans of outdoor recreation and job opportunities.

·         Hold federal agencies accountable for prioritizing outdoor recreation and increase volunteerism to address the maintenance backlog of America’s public lands.

·         Create a National Recreation Area System to streamline existing national recreation areas.

The bill also includes the Simplifying Outdoor Access for Recreation (SOAR) Act, introduced by Sens. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), which would improve outdoor recreation permitting processes. 

In the House, the bill was introduced by U.S. Rep. Blake Moore, R-Utah, and co-sponsored by U.S. Reps. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., and Don Young, R-Alaska.

The full bill text is here.

A web version of this release is here.