Bipartisan bill would improve the permitting process for outfitters, educational organizations, and community groups that help people get out on our public lands
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) introduced S. 1665, the Simplifying Outdoor Access for Recreation (SOAR) Act, to improve the permitting process for outfitters, educational organizations, and community groups to access and enjoy our public lands.
"Our public lands are where locals and visitors alike go to camp under the stars, chase bugling elk or wet a fly in a mountain stream, and they fuel the $887 billion outdoor recreation economy that directly sustains 7.6 million American jobs – many in rural communities," said Heinrich. "By streamlining the permitting process, the Simplifying Outdoor Access for Recreation (SOAR) Act will make it easier for outfitters to participate in the outdoor recreation economy and strengthen the communities that rely on it."
“By reducing the bureaucratic red tape of duplicative and ever-changing permitting requirements, the SOAR Act will make it easier for West Virginians and others to explore and enjoy the incredible beauty and natural resources we have all across the country,”said Capito. “These much-needed changes to federal public lands regulations will not only help support outdoor recreation, but they will also benefit the local communities and economies they support.”
The Simplifying Outdoor Access for Recreation Act streamlines and improves the recreational permitting process for federal agencies:
The bill is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Angus King (I-Maine), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), and Steven Daines (R-Mont.).
The Simplifying Outdoor Access for Recreation (SOAR) Act is supported by a wide range of organizations, including for-profit outfitters and guides, non-profit outfitters and guides, university recreation programs, and volunteer-based clubs.
"REI operates outdoor programs across the country and we support hundreds of vendors and nonprofits who do the same. The outdoor provider community has consistently struggled with the complexity of the federal recreational permit system," said Rebecca Bear, Director, REI Outdoor Programs and Experiences. "Streamlining the application process will help outdoor organizations more rapidly get people outside and promote an outdoor life. REI and our 17 million members are grateful for Senator Heinrich and Capito's leadership."
"Outdated regulations in the permitting system have made it time consuming, unpredictable, and in many cases-impossible-for outdoor organizations and businesses to provide outdoor experiences for the public on public lands," said Alex Kosseff, Executive Director at the American Mountain Guides Association. "The Simplifying Outdoor Access for Recreation Act removes old roadblocks to facilitated outdoor recreation and enables more Americans to get outside and enjoy public lands."
"Accessing America's public lands will be a lot easier when this bill passes," said Jamie Williams, President of The Wilderness Society. "Senators Heinrich and Capito deserve a lot of credit for developing a bill that eliminates bureaucratic red tape making it easier for youth programs, university recreation programs, nonprofit organizations and outfitters and guides to apply for and obtain recreational permits for public lands. The Wilderness Society is committed to connecting more Americans with the outdoors and this bill will help do just that."
“Thank you to Senators Heinrich and Capito for their efforts to simplify the recreational permitting process through the SOAR Act,” said Kevin Washington, President and CEO, YMCA of the USA. “Outdoor recreation helps children build positive relationships and develop a sense of achievement and belonging. Easing the currently complicated and restrictive process will enable youth-serving organizations like the Y to share nature’s wonders with many more kids and families and instill in our youth a lifelong appreciation for the outdoors.”
Members of the outdoor industry and the conservation community supporting the bill include: