Bipartisan Simplifying Outdoor Access for Recreation (SOAR) Act gains momentum with hearing in Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Oct. 31, 2019) — Today, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee heard testimony on the bipartisan Simplifying Outdoor Access for Recreation (SOAR) Act, legislation U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) introduced to improve the permitting process for outfitters, educational organizations, and community groups to access public lands, and grow the outdoor recreation industry, which is a major economic driver in New Mexico, particularly in rural communities.
During his questions, Senator Heinrich emphasized the need for federal land management agencies to dedicate the attention and resources necessary to meet growing demands and encourage the growth of recreation opportunities. Witness Aaron Bannon, the Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability Director at the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), told Senator Heinrich that NOLS has been operating under a tenuous agreement with the U.S. Forest Service and without an existing permit in the Gila National Forest for the last two years because of ongoing complications during the proposal phase of the forest's management plan.
The Simplifying Outdoor Access for Recreation Act streamlines and improves the recreational permitting process for federal agencies:
The Simplifying Outdoor Access for Recreation (SOAR) Act 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.), Steven Daines (R-Mont.), and Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), and is supported by a number of members of the outdoor industry and the conservation community.
Senator Heinrich serves as the co-chair of the bipartisan Outdoor Recreation Caucus and the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus and has championed efforts to grow the outdoor recreation economy.