Energy And Natural Resources Committee Advances Manchin And Barrasso’s Historic Outdoor Recreation Bill

Bipartisan America’s Outdoor Recreation Act would strengthen our nation’s growing outdoor recreation economy while providing economic boosts to local communities

May 3, 2022

Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and John Barrasso (R-WY), Ranking Member of the Committee, praised today’s unanimous committee vote to advance their bipartisan America’s Outdoor Recreation Act of 2022, the first comprehensive recreation package since 1963 that will improve and expand America’s outdoor recreation economy while delivering sustainable economic boosts to rural communities.

“Nothing brings West Virginians closer together than our love and appreciation for the wild and wonderful outdoor playground we have been blessed with. For generations, it has provided us endless opportunities to explore and recreate with our friends and family while improving our mental and physical well-being. That’s why I’m incredibly proud our committee voted to advance my bipartisan America’s Outdoor Recreation Act which will improve our recreation infrastructure, make it easier for businesses to thrive in rural areas in West Virginia and across the country, and ensure our treasured public lands are accessible for generations to come. As Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and a lifelong outdoorsman, I am committed to working with Ranking Member Barrasso and our colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get our historic legislation across the finish line and signed into law,” said Chairman Manchin.

“Key priorities for Wyoming’s outdoor recreation economy are moving forward,” said Ranking Member Barrasso. “Our bipartisan legislation is a monumental achievement for all who enjoy our public lands and shared natural resources. It will increase access to the outdoors, streamline and simplify agency processes, and improve America’s recreation infrastructure. It will also modernize film and photography permitting on public lands. Finally, it will incentivize volunteers to help with efforts to conserve Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep in Grand Teton National Park. I will continue to work with Chairman Manchin to get this important package passed by the full Senate and signed into law.”

You can access full text of the bill here, a one-page summary here and a section- by-section summary here.

America’s Outdoor Recreation Act is supported by a broad coalition of organizations, including America Outdoors, American Mountain Guides Association, American Sportfishing Association, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, Delta Waterfowl, Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS), International Mountain Bicycling Association, KABOOM!, Marine Retailers Association of America, National Forest Recreation Association, National Marine Manufacturing Association, National Parks Hospitality Association, National Recreation and Park Association, National Shooting Sports Foundation, Outdoor Alliance, Outdoor Industry Association, Outdoor Recreation Roundtable, People For Bikes, Professional Photographers of America, REI, RV Industry Association, Teddy Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, The Mule Deer Foundation, The Trust for Public Land, The Wilderness Society, Vista Outdoors, Wyoming Outfitters and Guides Association and Wyoming State Parks and Cultural Resources.

“Today’s passage of the America’s Outdoor Recreation Act of 2022 out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is monumental because it marks the first-ever recreation package heading to the Senate floor,” said Jessica Turner, President of Outdoor Recreation Roundtable. “We applaud Chairman Manchin, Ranking Member Barrasso and the members of the Committee for their important and timely provisions that came together in this outdoor recreation package, and for passing it out of committee. As outdoor recreation participation has increased across the country, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, communities are looking to outdoor recreation as an economic development strategy and for its widespread benefits to public health. With this interest in promoting time outside combined with outdated policies and processes, agencies need updated tools in their toolbox when it comes to managing more users of our public lands and waters, mitigating the impacts of climate change, supporting rural businesses coming back from COVID, and ensuring the outdoors is accessible to everyone. The $689 billion outdoor industry now urges Congress to pass the America’s Outdoor Recreation Act of 2022 to continue the tremendous momentum of this growing industry that supports all facets of American life.”

“Increased support for outdoor recreation through federal investments in recreation infrastructure and public parks is critical to the continued success of our business and the outdoor industry,” said Lise Aangeenbrug, Executive Director, Outdoor Industry Association. “This bipartisan proposal will expand Americans’ access to outdoor spaces and recreation, support local outdoor industry businesses and their employees, and bring meaningful economic opportunities to countless communities. Following nearly two years of COVID-19 related lockdowns and economic stress, these proposals would also improve the mental, physical, and economic well-being of everyone, regardless of zip code, background, or income. As this measure advances in the Senate, we remain committed to working with Congress together to ensure this vital legislation is passed and enacted into law.”

“Outdoor Alliance is grateful for the Energy and Natural Resources Committee's work to advance important bills for the recreation community. Effectively managing our public lands and waters requires both conservation and sound policy guidance. We are pleased that America's Outdoor Recreation Act will provide improved management for climbing and mountain biking; enhance the ways that land managers and agencies account for recreation; and invest in equity through the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership and by making facilitated access experiences available to more Americans. We are also tremendously pleased by the committee's attention to protecting critical landscapes for conservation and recreation, including through the CORE Act, Wild Olympics, and the Smith River NRA Expansion Act,” said Louis Geltman, Policy Director, Outdoor Alliance.

“By giving outfitters and public land agencies new tools and resources to improve access and the permitting process, we can all focus on what’s really important: building people’s connections with our greatest resource, the shared American landscape. America’s Outdoor Recreation Act bolsters the outdoor recreation economy and opens the doors for outfitters new and old to provide ample and affordable guided opportunities to folks from all walks of life,” said Aaron Bannon, Executive Director, America Outdoors Association.

"The American Mountain Guides Association applauds Senator Manchin and Senator Barrasso, and the entire Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, for advancing the America's Outdoor Recreation Act of 2022. It will make significant improvements to the outfitter and guide permitting systems of the Federal land agencies to make it easier for Americans to access public lands with a guide, and easier for guides to provide their services at climbing and skiing destinations across the country,” said Matt Wade, Deputy Director, American Mountain Guides Association.

“Wyoming is proud of the world-class outdoor recreation opportunities we have for our citizens and visitors – they improve the quality of life in our state and enhance the economy. We applaud the work being done on this federal legislation to expand and enhance outdoor recreation through increased collaboration between state, local and federal land managers,” said Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon.

“NSSF applauds Chairman Joe Manchin and Ranking Member John Barrasso for championing this important legislative package. When enacted, this bill will facilitate enhanced and expanded opportunities for hunting, fishing and recreational shooting for today’s outdoorsmen and women on our public lands. NSSF is especially appreciative of the provisions in this bill which would create new public shooting ranges throughout the National Forest system and Bureau of Land Management districts,” said Lawrence G. Keane, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF).

“One in three people in the U.S. do not have access to a park within a 10-minute walk from home, and this legislation will make real progress towards closing that park equity gap,” said Bill Lee, Senior Vice President for Policy, Advocacy and Government Relations at the Trust for Public Land. "We are particularly grateful to Senators Alex Padilla (D-CA), Susan Collins (R-ME) and John Hickenlooper (D-CO) for their leadership in advancing the Outdoors for All Act, and to Chairman Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Ranking Member John Barrasso (R-WY) for including it in the legislative package approved by the Committee today. For the many communities that so urgently need this help, Trust for Public Land looks forward to timely enactment of this vital bill."

“The sportfishing industry thanks Chairman Manchin, Ranking Member Barrasso and Members of the Committee for advancing this incredibly important legislation for America’s outdoor recreation community,” said Glenn Hughes, President of the American Sportfishing Association. “The America’s Outdoor Recreation Act is a comprehensive set of provisions to ensure our public lands are well managed and conserved to benefit the outdoor recreation economy and all those who love the outdoors.”

“Delta Waterfowl is pleased to support the America’s Outdoor Recreation Act of 2022. When an acted, this important legislation will have numerous direct and indirect benefits to waterfowl and waterfowl hunters,” said John Devney, Chief Policy Officer, Delta Waterfowl.

“We appreciate the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee advancing the America’s Outdoor Recreation Act. This legislation includes an important provision that allows agencies to leverage data science, analytics, and operations research to help approach complex issues related to visitation on public lands. These important tools can ensure the agencies are better able transform data into information, and information into insights that lead to more efficient, effective, equitable, and impactful results. We appreciate Senator Manchin and Senator Barrasso including data science, analytics, and operations research within this important outdoor recreation legislation,” said Jeff Cohen, Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer, Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS).

“Outdoor recreation, including mountain biking and other forms of off- road cycling exploring the vast network of gravel roads and trails, has grown in popularity over the last decade. We at the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) applaud Chairman Manchin (D-WV), Ranking Member Barrasso (R-WY), Senator Lujan (D-NM), Senator Cramer (R-ND), and the full committee for their support in passing this historic recreation package which includes the Biking on Long Distance Trails (BOLT) Act, amongst other recreation bills that will create the best outdoor recreation infrastructure in the world. We also express our gratitude to the committee in passing the Bonneville Shoreline Advancement Act (BSTAA), and the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Economy (CORE) Act. These bills balance outdoor recreation with a sound conservation ethic, and we at IMBA are proud supporters of both,” said Todd Keller, Director of Government Affairs, International Mountain Bicycling Association.

“KABOOM! applauds bipartisan support for ensuring every community has access to quality parks and playspaces. Centering racial equity in policy is imperative because Black, brown, and Indigenous communities, including children, who have been harmed by generations of racialized disinvestment need to experience the benefits of the resources they should have had all along. Building a different future where all kids have a safe, joyful place to play is as important as tackling disparities in housing, education and health. Codifying the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership program within the America's Outdoor Recreation Act of 2022 will provide valuable infrastructure investments to under-resourced communities and help advance racial equity in access to quality outdoor recreation,” said Lysa Ratliff, CEO, KABOOM!.

“Time and time again outdoor recreation can bridge party lines and unify members of Congress who understand the value these pastimes hold for communities and individuals nationwide,” said Matt Gruhn, President of the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas. “I hope todays passage of this historic outdoor recreation package is the first of many, and that we continue to see investments made in our nation’s ever-growing outdoor recreation economy to further conservation and expand access for all Americans.”

"The Mule Deer Foundation. (MDF) appreciates Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Joe Manchin and Ranking Member John Barrasso for their efforts to enhance outdoor recreational opportunities on our federal lands through passage of the America’s Outdoor Recreation Act of 2022. In particular, MDF appreciates the inclusion of language that would increase areas for recreational shooting on National Forests and Bureau of Land Management lands. Creating additional dedicated ranges will facilitate safe and environmentally friendly recreational shooting opportunities. MDF is also supportive of provisions in the bill that will, at long last, streamline and reform the permitting process for filming and photography on public lands. Doing so will enhance our organization’s ability to better tell the story of the great partnerships we are a part of which create and restore wildlife habitat and reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire on federal lands," said Joel Pedersen, President and CEO of the Mule Deer Foundation.

“The National Forest Recreation Association strongly supports America’s Outdoor Recreation Act of 2022. The Act will result in unprecedented enhancements of outdoor recreation on our federal lands. NFRA in particular is excited about the Act’s pilot program to modernize federal campgrounds. It takes advantage of public-private partnering to avoid any use of public funds to improve our nation’s aging campgrounds, many of which were constructed in the 1950s and 60s, so they can meet the needs of today’s campers. The result will promote inclusion of more diverse users groups in our outdoor spaces in addition to ensuring facilities allow those with disabilities to fully enjoy the outdoors,” said Marily Reese, Executive Director, National Forest Recreation Association.

“From stopping the spread of aquatic invasive species to ensuring recreation management is a top priority of the federal government, the bipartisan America’s Outdoor Recreation Act of 2022 provides much needed tools to keep Americans recreating outdoors for generations to come,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, President of the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA). “With more Americans than ever rediscovering their passion for recreational boating and outdoor recreation in general, it’s essential for our leaders in Washington to help us keep up with this historic demand, and I strongly encourage all members of Congress to support this bill.”

“Concessioners in the national parks have an enduring partnership with the National Park Service in delivering great experiences to millions of visitors each year. The America’s Outdoor Recreation Act of 2022 embraces the tradition of partnerships in the Great Outdoors and offers amazing opportunities to contribute to America’s wellness, our local and national economies and to our conservation traditions. The simple fact is that together, public agencies and nimble recreation and hospitality businesses can deliver better results together than alone. And bravo to the Senate for charting a great course forward!” said Derrick A. Crandall, Executive Director, National Park Hospitality Association.

“The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) applauds the inclusion of urban parks in the America's Outdoor Recreation Act of 2022. As the leading not-for-profit organization dedicated to building strong, vibrant and resilient communities through the power of parks and recreation, we know firsthand how important it is to codify the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership program. NRPA proudly supports this bipartisan bill that will expand access to close-to-home outdoor recreation,” said Elvis Cordova, Vice President of Public Policy and Advocacy, National Recreation and Park Association.

America’s Outdoor Recreation Act of 2022 will make biking and mountain biking experiences on our public lands more accessible, sustainable and enjoyable for all. Provisions like SOAR and BOLT can help meet the growing demand for bicycling as a low-cost, emissionless and tourism-driving activity," said Jenn Dice, President and CEO, PeopleForBikes. "This package proves that bike policy brings both sides of the aisle together to grow infrastructure and access. We look forward to working with the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on advancing this first-of-it's-kind bipartisan investment in our recreation future."

“At REI, we believe that time outside--recreating with family and friends, or on your own--is fundamental to a life well lived. We applaud Chairman Manchin, Ranking Member Barrasso, and the senators who have been diligently working on these policies for years for coming together to support making the outdoors more accessible for everyone. The America’s Outdoor Recreation Act of 2022 will both strengthen our public lands and increase opportunities for all people to enjoy time in nature. Through increased resources for expansive outdoor recreation pursuits, including long-trails and urban parks in historically disinvested communities, and permit streamlining, this bill is increasing equitable access to the outdoors in a bipartisan way,” said Taldi Harrison, Head of Government Affairs, REI Co-op.

“The RV Industry Association applauds efforts to modernize campgrounds, grow jobs, and ensure all Americans have the opportunity to enjoy the many benefits of living an active outdoor lifestyle. America’s Outdoor Recreation Act of 2022 comes at a critical time as RVing is growing more and more popular, particularly with younger and more diverse Americans and will lead to more sustainable camping opportunities while creating good paying jobs in the outdoor recreation sector, many of which are found in rural communities. The bill’s gateway community assistance for outdoor recreation businesses and campgrounds, responsibly extending shoulder seasons, and bringing much needed broadband to front country campgrounds is a priority for the $114 billion American-made RV industry and will be vital to continuing to attract the next generation of park stewards and outdoor recreation enthusiasts. We thank Senators Manchin and Barrasso for their leadership and call for swift action by Congress to pass this monumental bipartisan legislation,” said Craig Kirby, President and CEO, RV Industry Association.

America’s Outdoor Recreation Act will make our public lands more accessible to all Americans by modernizing agency rules and processes and enhancing recreation infrastructure across the country. This bipartisan bill reflects the importance of these shared spaces to outdoor recreation,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Hunters and anglers thank leadership and members of both parties in the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee for moving this legislation forward.”

“The time to invest in the outdoors is now. Millions of people ventured outdoors over the past twenty-four months as they experienced the many mental, social and physical attributes the outdoors has to offer. The bipartisan America’s Outdoor Recreation Act shows that Congress is up to the task of facilitating and expanding outdoor experiences for all. The provisions in the Outdoor Recreation Act advance common goals that we support, including expanded access, infrastructure investments, diversity and better management of our public lands. We applaud Chairman Manchin and Ranking Member Barrasso for their unwavering commitment to bipartisanship and the great outdoors,” said Fred Ferguson, Vice President Public Affairs and Communications, Vista Outdoor Inc.

“The members of the Wyoming Outfitter and Guides Association support and urge passage of America’s Outdoor Recreation Act. Wyoming’s outdoor recreation industries are a huge part of our state’s economy and WYOGA whole heartedly supports the act,” said the Wyoming Outfitters and Guides Association in a statement.