Friday, March 17, 2023

America’s Outdoor Recreation Act Reintroduced in U.S. Senate

CONTACT: John Chambers, Public Affairs Manager 703-519-9691, x247
American Sportfishing Association

America’s Outdoor Recreation Act Reintroduced in U.S. Senate

The legislation would expand outdoor recreation opportunities on public lands, including sportfishing.

Alexandria, VA – March 16, 2023 - On Thursday, March 16, leadership of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Chairman Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Ranking Member John Barrasso (R.-Wyo.), reintroduced the America’s Outdoor Recreation Act. Sens. Machin and Barrasso previously introduced the bill in the 117th Congress, but it failed to pass Congress despite its unanimous approval in the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

“The sportfishing industry thanks Chairman Manchin and Ranking Member Barrasso for reintroducing this important legislation that will increase access to America’s public lands for fishing and other outdoor recreation activities,” said Glenn Hughes, president of the American Sportfishing Association (ASA). “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.”

The America’s Outdoor Recreation Act contains dozens of separate but related provisions aimed at expanding and enhancing outdoor recreation opportunities at federal lands, including those 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 following provisions are of specific importance to the sportfishing industry:

  • Improved Visitation Data (Sec. 144) will require federal land management agencies to establish a single visitation data management system for public recreation. Reliable, comparable and real-time data are crucial for understanding areas of economic growth in outdoor recreation, and for managing federal lands.
  • Federal Land and Aquatic Resource Activities Assistance (Sec. 404) will provide authority for inspections and decontamination of watercraft entering and leaving Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation and National Park Service sites in western states. This provision aims to help stop the spread of aquatic invasive species between waterways while minimizing disruptions to public access for boating.
  • Ensuring Recreation is a Management Priority (Sec. 141) would create an inventory of recreation opportunities on federal lands and require that the federal agencies manage these lands to protect and enhance the value of outdoor recreation.

“With increasing fishing participation being one of ASA’s core pillars, legislation like the America’s Outdoor Recreation Act is an important tool in accomplishing that goal,” Hughes added. “Sound federal policies ensure that the public has quality places to enjoy fishing for generations to come.”

More information about the legislation can be found here.