What is the Outdoor Recreation Act and how will it effect outdoorsmen and women?
Two U.S. Senators from different sides of the aisle have come together for the benefit of outdoor recreation including camping, hiking, climbing, and access to federal lands.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va) and Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo) have introduced the Outdoor Recreation Act to improve outdoor recreation opportunities in federally-owned lands across the United States.
Both sportsmen and conservationists across the nation are now finding themselves equally ready to see it through. Time will tell how far the bipartisan legislation will go, but this is a bill that should get a closer look and be favored by outdoorsmen nationwide.
The Innovative Approach
Not only are some of the basic outdoor activities represented in the bill, but one area that we didn't expect was in directing the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management a mandate to designate new shooting ranges on National Forests and BLM land.
Included in the resolution is a proviso to give technical and financial assistance to local communities that support visitation of public lands and usage of natural resources, all while placing an extension on the period of time that recreation areas on federal land are open to the public. The outdoor recreation economy is a burgeoning one, especially for certain rural communities across the country. Supporting the recreation infrastructure through enhancements of things as simple as boating access and bike trails can make a significant difference for the future of these recreation activities.
Also, a competitive grant program would be established to oversee inspections and decontaminate watercraft at reservoirs and other waterways administrated by the Department of the Interior to help identify and stop aquatic invasive species.
The bill would also seek to allow more motorized access to federal lands along with increased access for hikers and campers. This has garnered support from several revered motorsports organizations, including the RV Industry Association.
Groups That Support the Outdoor Recreation Bill
According to the Energy Department, these are the organizations that are already lining up in favor of the Outdoor Recreation Act:
"Outdoor Recreation Roundtable, Outdoor Industry Association, National Shooting Sports Foundation, National Forest Recreation Association, The Access Fund, Outdoor Alliance, American Motorcyclist Association, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Southwest Wyoming Off-road Trails, Wyoming State Parks and Cultural Resources, Hatfield-McCoy Trails, Water Stone Outdoors, National Marine Manufacturing Association, American Sportfishing Association, Motorcycle Industry Council, Winter Wildlands Alliance, REI, RV Industry Association, Vista Outdoors, the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences, and American Whitewater."
The Rest of the Story
Modernizing campgrounds on federal land is a welcome idea for many who love to plan their vacations on U.S. soil, but another great stipulation is to direct "Federal land management agencies to identify broadband connectivity needs and priorities at Federal recreation sites that lack access, and to work with the Rural Utilities Service to construct broadband internet infrastructure at those sites."
With increasing public demand to access and enjoy federal lands, this legislation will give better access to a diverse cross section of America's outdoor enthusiasts.
Every state in the union has some amount of federal lands and those lands belong to the public trust. Most of these public lands are managed by the federal government, so in that sense, the bill can be an advantage by simply giving us more access.
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