Today, a congressional committee said "yes" to protecting more outdoor recreation areas.
The Recreation Not Red-Tape (RNR) Act passed through its first round of votes in the U.S. House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee, chaired by one of the bill’s sponsors, Utah Rep. Rob Bishop.
While lobbying at the nation’s capital during Capitol Summit, Outdoor Industry Association members are asking policymakers to co-sponsor the bipartisan legislation that would update processes and policies to designate and manage more areas specifically for recreation.
“We look forward to the bill’s continued movement in the House and a speedy vote in the Senate so that recreation experiences can be improved on the public lands Americans enjoy, creating healthier communities and contributing to the $887 billion recreation economy and its 7.6 million jobs,” said Jessica Wahl, OIA's government affairs manager.
"America Outdoors Association supports the bill and thanks Chairman Bishop (R-UT) and ranking member Grijalva (D-AZ) for working together with members of the committee from both sides of the aisle to develop and modify legislation to improve access to recreation opportunities on public lands for all Americans," the association wrote in a press release.
The act was introduced by Senator Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, and Rep. Bishop, D-Utah, last summer with the full support of OIA and the larger outdoor industry.
With the approval in committee, the bill has moved to the House floor for a full vote.
Currently, Congress can designate national parks, wild and scenic rivers, and wilderness areas, while the president can designate national monuments.
However, there are many other areas that don’t meet the criteria for such designations, but still need to be protected and managed for outdoor recreation. Under the act, these places would be called National Recreation Areas, or NRAs.
Wahl, in a news release from October 2017, said the RNR Act would also:
1. Improve the special-use recreation permitting process
2. Facilitate and prioritize outdoor programs for veterans, seniors, and kids
3. Enhance the use of volunteers for maintenance and stewardship
4. Allow the National Forest Service to retain fees paid by ski area operations on public lands —currently those fees go to the general treasury of the U.S
5. Introduce new recreation-based metrics for land-manager performance evaluations
6. Create an online system for obtaining federal recreation passes