The Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources unanimously passed America’s Outdoor Recreation Act of 2022 this month. This legislation, beneficial to the off-highway powersports industry and off-highway vehicle (OHV) enthusiasts, was introduced by committee chairman Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia and ranking member Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming.
The landmark package also included several groundbreaking recreation bills: the Colorado Outdoor Recreation & Economy Act, the Simplifying Access to Outdoor Recreation Act, the Recreation Not Red-Tape Act, the Gateway Community and Recreation Enhancement Act, the Federal Interior Lands Media Act and the Biking on Long Distance Trails Act.
“The overwhelming support for these bills shows us the enthusiasm surrounding our public lands and outdoor recreation is strong and growing,” Manchin said. “This bipartisan package will make it easier for members of the public to access and enjoy our public lands as well as our rural businesses focused on outdoor recreation to thrive. The last time outdoor recreation legislation of this size and scale was enacted was 1963.”
The America’s Outdoor Recreation Act contains dozens of separate but related provisions aimed at expanding and enhancing outdoor recreation opportunities within federal lands managed by the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation and the USDA Forest Service. These provisions range from streamlining the permitting processes for guides operating on federal lands to expanding broadband internet connectivity at recreation sites to supporting public-private partnerships to expand parking facilities. The legislation also seeks to promote collaboration between federal agencies while working with gateway communities grappling with an unprecedented surge in tourism. Nearly 300 million people visited national parks in 2021, an increase of 60 million compared to the previous year.
“Truly a historic day for America’s outdoor recreation economy,” Barrasso said. “A first of its kind, this legislation is a monumental achievement for all who enjoy our public lands and our shared natural resources.”
“I don’t think our nation has seen the positive impacts outdoor recreation has had on Americans’ physical, mental and economic health in such a tangible way as we have over the past several years,” said Jessica Turner, president of the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR). “Now is the time to remind the nation and our elected officials how the outdoors and the recreation economy helped us get through the pandemic and how we can bring more to people, communities and economies with bills like the recreation package. We hope Americans continue to get outside to improve their lives and, like the video states, nowadays we could all use a little less zoom and a little more vroom.”
The outdoor industry, according to the ORR, supports 4.3 million-plus jobs across the country and contributes $689 billion to the U.S. economy. And a significant portion comes from the powersports industry.
“Powersports businesses and enthusiasts should be happy to see Congressional recognition for the tremendous value of public lands,” said Scott Schloegel, senior vice president at the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) Government Relations Office. “The MIC, the Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association and the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America are founding members of the ORR. We are proud to work with America’s leading coalition of outdoor recreation trade organizations to promote the growth of the outdoor recreation economy and activities.”