Manchin, Witnesses Praise Bipartisan Outdoor Recreation Act

Manchin’s bipartisan legislation would support West Virginia’s strong and growing outdoor recreation economy while providing an economic boost to local communities.

December 2, 2021

To watch a video of Senator Manchin’s opening remarks, please click here.

To watch a video of Senator Manchin’s questioning, please click here.

Washington, DC – Today, the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing to consider several outdoor recreation bills, including Senator Joe Manchin’s (D-WV), Chairman of the Committee, bipartisan Outdoor Recreation Act. Both Chairman Manchin and the witnesses praised the bill as an opportunity to facilitate people’s ability to enjoy our nation’s public lands while delivering sustainable economic boosts to rural communities.

“Our Committee has talked at length about making it easier for people to enjoy our nation’s treasures – in a responsible way – as well as the importance of the outdoor recreation economy. That is exactly the reason why Ranking Member Barrasso and I introduced the Outdoor Recreation Act. Our bill enjoys the support of dozens of groups, including the Outdoor Alliance, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, and local businesses—like Water Stone Outdoors in West Virginia… The Outdoor Recreation Act authorizes agencies like the Forest Service and the Department of the Interior to accept money from outside organizations that want to invest in outdoor recreation infrastructure on Federal lands. It also contains proactive measures related to climbing, biking, and target shooting on Federal land. These are common sense ways to improve the public’s experience as they recreate on public lands.,” Chairman Manchin said.

“The bills being discussed today, [including the Outdoor Recreation Act, drive] pragmatic solutions forward that facilitate more people getting outside, while protecting our natural resources now and for generations to come. Passage of the Outdoor Recreation Act… among the other pragmatic outdoor recreation bills being discussed today, will allow our industry to excel at what we do best: support healthy people, places, communities, and economies… These important bills do so much for this growing sector, and the millions of Americans seeking outdoor experiences now and for generations to come,” said Ms. Jessica (Wahl) Turner, President, Outdoor Recreation Roundtable.

“We support the Outdoor Recreation Act. This bill is another example where the outdoors is bringing us together. The list of supporters is diverse and encompasses all sides of the recreation ecosystem. That is not an easy accomplishment and deserves to be recognized. [In particular], the provision directing support for gateway communities was needed pre-pandemic, and is absolutely required now. Rural towns and counties take pride in the recreation assets located in their backyards, but they have limited tools to manage the growth and popularity that they create. With national parks and recreation sites regularly breaking visitation records, gateway community planning is an essential part of the visitor experience,” said Mr. Fred Ferguson, Vice President for Public Affairs and Communications, Vista Outdoor.

“National forests play a vital role in the recreation economy by supporting millions of recreation visits annually, and spending by those visitors contributes greatly to local, state and national economies. Cities and towns across the country are tapping into the business of outdoor recreation, and for good reason. They recognize that outdoor recreation and open spaces are key ingredients to healthy communities, contribute to a high quality of life, and most importantly, attract and sustain businesses and families… We really welcome tools such as those proposed in the Outdoor Recreation Act that assist us in building back better to undertake more robust recreation planning, partnerships, conservation finance agreements, and improve our infrastructure," said Mr. Christopher French Deputy Chief for the National Forest System, USDA Forest Service.

“The Outdoor Recreation Act proposes to modernize and improve outdoor recreation on Federal lands and encourage economic growth in rural communities…. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) appreciates the sponsors’ interest in finding innovative ways to modernize recreation facilities and meet the growing demand for outdoor recreation opportunities,” said Mr. Mark Lambrecht, Assistant Director for National Conservation Lands and Community Partnerships, Bureau of Land Management.

Earlier this month, Chairman Manchin and Ranking Member John Barrasso (R-WY) introduced the Outdoor Recreation Act. This bipartisan legislation would increase and improve outdoor recreation opportunities across the nation while improving infrastructure and driving economic growth in rural communities.

The hearing featured witnesses from the USDA Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Vista Outdoor and the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable. To read their testimony click here.

To watch the hearing in full, please click here.