In a unanimous decision, the House Natural Resources Committee has passed the Expanding Public Lands Outdoor Recreation Experiences (EXPLORE) Act, marking a pivotal moment in bipartisan efforts to reshape the outdoor recreation landscape in the United States.
This development is a culmination of the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR) and industry partners’ persistent advocacy for policies enhancing access and transforming outdoor activities.
This act represented one of the most significant public lands and waters packages in the nation’s history. The EXPLORE Act builds on this momentum, setting a historical precedent as the first-ever outdoor recreation-specific bill package that incurs no cost to taxpayers.
The legislation aims to boost both local and national economies by providing more Americans, especially those in underserved areas, with greater access to green spaces, public lands, and waters.
It also seeks to modernize policies and procedures to support the recreation businesses that facilitate outdoor experiences. The EXPLORE Act aligns with a similar package passed in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last year, known as America’s Outdoor Recreation Act (AORA).
Jessica Wahl Turner, president of the ORR, commended the committee’s action, highlighting the bill’s potential to revitalize recreation management and access.
She underscored the bipartisan effort led by Chairman Bruce Westerman and Ranking Member Raul Grijalva, reflecting a commitment to enhancing outdoor experiences for every American.
The EXPLORE Act is designed to streamline permits for outfitters and guides, thereby easing access to outdoor experiences.
It also focuses on improving access to recreation on public lands and waters and ensuring that green spaces are accessible in underserved communities. Additionally, the Act aims to develop, improve, and complete long-range trails, contributing to rural economic development.
Phil Ingrassia, president of the National RV Dealers Association, emphasized the bill’s significance for the RV industry and the broader outdoor recreation sector. He noted that the Act would improve and modernize recreation infrastructure on public lands, supporting the growing number of RV travelers.
Craig Kirby, president & CEO of the RV Industry Association, echoed these sentiments. He highlighted the Act’s role in making sustainable improvements to the nation’s campgrounds and enhancing the experiences of current and future RVers. Kirby also pointed out the Act’s potential to provide greater access to the health benefits offered by the great outdoors and its economic boost to local and national economies.
The passage of the EXPLORE Act represents a significant step forward for the outdoor recreation industry. It not only promises to improve access and infrastructure but also aligns with the growing enthusiasm for outdoor activities among Americans. The Act’s focus on underserved communities and its potential economic impact underscore its importance in the broader context of public health and economic development.
As the outdoor recreation industry continues to grow, the EXPLORE Act offers a framework for sustainable development and access. Its passage would mark a historic achievement in bipartisan efforts to enhance the outdoor experiences available to Americans, ensuring that the nation’s green spaces and outdoor places are accessible and enjoyable for all.