Bipartisan Legislation Seeks to Improve Access to Outdoor Rec Opportunities

U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Committee Rob Bishop, R-Utah, and Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., reintroduced legislation last week in the Senate and House designed to remove barriers to outdoor recreation and boost rural economies across the country.

Their bipartisan Recreation Not Red Tape (RNR) Act would promote access to outdoor recreation opportunities and allow more visitors to get outdoors, say propenents of the bill. The RNR Act would streamline the permitting process for guides and recreation enthusiasts, hold federal agencies accountable for making outdoor recreation a priority for the first time and increase volunteerism to address the maintenance backlog on America’s public lands. The RNR Act 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.

“Appreciation of the outdoors is in Oregon’s DNA. Right now, there’s too much bureaucratic red tape getting in the way of nature enthusiasts and the small businesses that help them take advantage of the endless recreation experiences our public lands offer,” Wyden said. “This bill is about breaking cumbersome and unnecessary barriers to outdoor recreation in the spirit of local job creation and access to our treasured public lands.”

“Regardless of party, we can agree that outdoor recreation is important to the health and wellness of all Americans. In my home state of Utah and in many other places, the recreation industry is inextricably linked to the lives and livelihoods of the region,” Bishop said. “This bipartisan bill will encourage the federal and state governments to collaborate on ways to enhance and increase access to public lands. Americans should be able enjoy the outdoors without the burden of bureaucracy standing in their way.”

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“Our nation’s public lands and National Parks are some of our greatest treasures, providing Iowans with the opportunity to hunt, fish, hike, or simply observe wildlife. But as we see all too often, bureaucratic red-tape and burdensome processes can get in the way,” Ernst said. “This bipartisan bill will help streamline the permitting process for our small businesses and address the maintenance backlogs to ensure outdoor recreational opportunities for folks across the country.”

“Hunters and fishers are the stewards of our land and responsible for much of the conservation efforts,” Dingell said. “This bipartisan bill supports sportsman and reduces barriers to access the outdoors, while maintaining strong support for conservation. We must work together to protect the environment, endangered species, and our traditions.”

Wyden and Bishop introduced the RNR Act in 2017 after gathering input from outdoor enthusiasts from across the country about how to improve overly complicated and outdated agency processes that make it more difficult for local recreation businesses to thrive. Wyden also introduced a previous version of the RNR Act in 2016—several pieces of which have since become law, including a piece of the bill that called for a study to discover the real-world economic impacts of outdoor recreation.

The bill text is available here.