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Press Release

What They Are Saying: The EXPLORE Act

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 4, 2023 | Committee Press Office (202-225-2761)
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Last week, House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.), House Committee on Natural Resources Ranking Member Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and a bipartisan group of 18 members introduced the Expanding Public Lands Outdoor Recreation Experiences (EXPLORE) Act.

"The American Alpine Club is excited to see that climbing management is an important component of the newly introduced EXPLORE Act brought by Representative Westerman and Representative Grijalva. The EXPLORE Act will provide much needed support and guidance to land managers, especially to those charged with the management of climbing areas." - Byron Harvison, policy director, American Alpine Club

"On behalf of American Hiking Society and the 59 million strong hiking community who enjoy the trails and green spaces in their communities and across public lands, we write in support of the committee’s consideration of the EXPLORE Act...which will support hikers, trails, public lands, and the outdoors by expanding outdoor recreation access and bringing much needed improvements to public access of these spaces." - Tyler Ray, senior director for programs and advocacy, American Hiking Society

"AHC supports the EXPLORE Act because it protects access for horses and packers on public lands. Maintaining and expanding trail access on public lands ensures the next generation of horseback riders can explore and recreate safely alongside other users. The inclusion of language to identify and adopt policies to promote conflict avoidance on multiple use trails is extremely important for the welfare of all users, and especially those who are riding or packing. AHC also commends the inclusion of the MVP Act (Military and Veterans in Parks Act) which holds the potential to expand access for Veterans and Active-Duty military as there are proven therapeutic benefits associated with outdoor recreation and Equine assisted service/therapy."Julie Broadway, president, American Horse Council

"Outdated regulations in the outfitter-guide permitting system have made it time consuming, unpredictable, and unnecessarily difficult for people to experience outdoor recreation with an organized group, educational organization, or guide service. The EXPLORE Act includes provisions that will remove old roadblocks to access and enable more Americans to experience the joys of rock climbing, mountaineering, and backcountry skiing on America’s public lands. The American Mountain Guides Association applauds Congressmen Westerman and Grijalva for introducing the EXPLORE Act." - Matt Wade, executive director, American Mountain Guides Association

"The EXPLORE Act will benefit facilitated recreation providers, public lands agencies, and outdoor recreation enthusiasts alike. For the outfitters of America Outdoors, who prioritize the consistent delivery to their visitors of authentic, transformational experiences in the iconic lands and waters of the U.S., Chairman Westerman’s leadership on this bill is greatly appreciated." - Aaron Bannon, executive director, America Outdoors

"Here in Montana outdoor recreation generates over 4% of our GDP, second in the nation only to Hawaii. We support the bill's funding for rural economic development in gateway communities and enhanced public access to public land." - Mike Quist Kautz, director of public access, American Prairie

"There is much to support in this broad-based legislation that seeks to improve recreational opportunities across all federal land management agencies. ASA particularly supports provisions to modernize and improve accessible trails and campgrounds, improve visitation data collection and reporting, slow the spread of aquatic invasive species, and increase youth participation in outdoor recreation. Passage of the EXPLORE Act will help ensure that the sportfishing industry, and the recreation economy in general, continues to grow. We are grateful for the ongoing work of the Committee to advance legislation that will strengthen the management and conservation of the nation’s public lands and waters. We look forward to working with the Committee on this and other important measures that benefit the recreational fishing industry and America’s anglers." - Glenn Hughes, president, American Sportfishing Association

"The Archery Trade Association is thankful for the many champions in Congress serving to reintroduce and support this important legislation. The America’s Outdoor Recreation Act will help ensure that our federal public lands are accessible, well managed, and continue to provide a critically important foundation for outdoor recreation enthusiasts." - Dan Forster, vice president and chief conservation officer, Archery Trade Association

"Hunters and anglers thank Chairman Westerman and Ranking Member Grijalva for their leadership on the Expanding Public Lands Outdoor Recreation Experiences Act. This comprehensive, bipartisan legislation will improve outdoor recreation management, making our public lands and waters more accessible and providing significant benefits for hunters and anglers as we pursue our sporting traditions." - Kaden McArthur, government relations manager, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers

"We appreciate the House Natural Resources Committee introducing and advancing the EXPLORE 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 to transform data into information, and information into insights that lead to more efficient, effective, equitable, and impactful results. We appreciate the sponsors including data science, analytics, and operations research within this important outdoor recreation legislation." - Jeff Cohen, chief strategy and innovation officer, Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences

"The EXPLORE Act offers a tremendous opportunity to invest in outdoor recreation including mountain biking, access for veterans, developing trails for adaptive users, and so much more. We are grateful to Chairman Westerman and Ranking Member Grijalva for their bipartisan leadership to introduce this important recreation package. IMBA and our partners will be working to pass the EXPLORE Act, which includes the Biking on Long-Distance Trails bill language, and will continue engaging mountain bike advocates to join us." - Todd Keller, director of government affairs, International Mountain Bicycling Association

"The recreational boating industry would like to thank Chairman Westerman and Ranking Member Grijalva for introducing this incredibly important legislation which will ultimately improve outdoor recreation opportunities on our Federal lands while simultaneously supporting the outfitters and Federal employees that make these opportunities possible. It is no secret the power of outdoor recreation in America, from benefits to mental health to providing much needed economic stimulus for rural communities, the MRAA lauds the Committee’s commitment to improving and growing outdoor recreation experiences on our Nation’s public lands and waters." - Matt Gruhn, president, Marine Retailers Association of the Americas

"On behalf of the Motorcycle Industry Council, the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America, and the Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association – collectively known as the Associations - we applaud your leadership for introducing the EXPLORE Act. This comprehensive legislation will help create additional opportunities for motorized access to federal recreational lands, improve recreation infrastructure, support local communities, and bolster our nation's economy. The introduction of the EXPLORE Act is timely and comes on the heels of the latest U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis report, which showed that in 2022, the outdoor recreation economy generated $1.1 trillion in economic output, comprised 2.2% of U.S. GDP, and supported 5 million jobs — 3.2% of all employees in the country. Outdoor recreation has been proven to boost the health of the economy and Americans, and access to public lands and trails is crucial for millions of ATV, dirt bike, and side-by-side riders and drivers to enjoy the outdoors." - Erik Pritchard, president, Motorcycle Industry Council

"As outdoor recreation grows in popularity, we need more tools to get people outside safely and responsibly. The EXPLORE Act will streamline the federal recreational permitting process to enable more people to experience the outdoors through organized group experiences facilitated by outdoor leaders and educators. The Mountaineers is grateful to Representative Westerman and Representative Grijalva for their leadership to help connect more people with their public lands and waters." - Tom Vogl, CEO, The Mountaineers

"Thank you to Chair Bruce Westerman (R-AR) and Ranking Member Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) for spearheading the EXPLORE Act, which will help safeguard our natural resources and ensure our bodies of water are properly preserved and protected. This legislation not only increases outdoor recreation access for millions of Americans but also mandates vital enhancements to detect and manage aquatic invasive species. On behalf of the recreational boating industry, NMMA is proud to support this important legislation that helps keep our lakes and inland waterways healthy and strengthens boaters’ access to these natural resources." - Frank Hugelmeyer, president and CEO, National Marine Manufacturers Association

"The EXPLORE Act is bipartisan legislation that will help ensure that Americans continue to enjoy the benefits of recreating outdoors for generations to come. The act will improve and modernize recreation infrastructure on public lands to support everyone who enjoys the great outdoors, including the growing number of RV travelers." - Phil Ingrassia, president, National RV Dealers Association

"Nearly 600 million Americans visited national public lands last year to pursue hiking, biking, camping, hunting, fishing and a broad array of other outdoor activities. Too often, they were met with overcrowding, confusing fees, or dilapidated structures. The bipartisan EXPLORE Act will facilitate long-overdue improvements to infrastructure, expand access, and simplify fees so that people can better enjoy the countless benefits that our public lands have to offer. As we expand opportunities for recreation, however, we must always make sure that it is done in a responsible manner so that negative impacts to wildlife are avoided or minimized." - David Willms, associate vice president of public lands, National Wildlife Federation

"Recreation in our great natural spaces is invaluable to our physical and mental health and spiritual well-being. Like our members and me, millions venture into national forests, grasslands and public waterways for ethically harvested, organic protein through hunting and fishing. The EXPLORE Act opens opportunities and provides infrastructure to support these and other recreational users and is vital to ensuring access to people of all walks of life who want to enjoy what nature has to offer." - Jason Burckhalter, co-CEO, National Wild Turkey Federation

"Outdoor recreation is growing, and Outdoor Alliance is thrilled to see Representative Westerman and Representative Grijalva introduce the EXPLORE Act, a first-of-its-kind package of outdoor recreation policy that would improve and protect outdoor recreation experiences on public lands and waters. Millions of Americans get outside each year, and the EXPLORE Act will improve management for climbing and mountain biking, enhance how agencies manage outdoor recreation, and invest in parks where they are needed most with the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership." - Louis Geltman, vice president of policy and government relations, Outdoor Alliance

"We are thrilled to see Congress taking action to ensure each American has the opportunity to enjoy outdoor spaces in their own community, bolster economic growth, and advance mental and physical health benefits for all. The outdoor recreation economy continues to soar to new levels, accounting for over $1 trillion in consumer spending and demonstrating participant growth for the eighth consecutive year. This is an important inflection point. We must modernize, preserve, and increase access to the public lands and waterways – regardless of where someone lives or works – and support more than five million employees who help drive our industry forward." - Kent Ebersole, president, Outdoor Industry Association

"This is a commonsense, no-cost bill that will improve access to green spaces and outdoor places in every state in the country. We continue to see growing interest in outdoor recreation, but many of the policies supporting outdoor recreation and the industries that make it possible are outdated. Thanks to bill sponsors Congressman Bruce Westerman (R-AR) and Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), this legislation will provide federal agencies with new tools they need to address recreation management and help more Americans reap the benefits of time spent outside, all while protecting the precious public lands and waters that make it all possible. This is a much-needed and historic step forward." - Jessica Wahl-Turner, president, Outdoor Recreation Roundtable

"Bicycling is a growing part of the outdoor recreation experience and the EXPLORE Act will make accessing the outdoors easier for bicycling and other outdoor recreation activities. This package proves that bike policy brings both sides of the aisle together to grow infrastructure and access. We look forward to working with Congress on advancing this first-of-its-kind bipartisan investment in the future of recreation." - Jenn Dice, CEO, PeopleForBikes 

"At REI Co-op, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived. We applaud Chairman Westerman, Ranking Member Grijalva, and the Committee members for coming together to make the outdoors more accessible, for everyone. The EXPLORE Act will both strengthen our public lands and increase opportunities for all people to enjoy time outside. Through increased resources for expansive outdoor recreation pursuits, including long-distance trails and urban parks in historically disinvested communities, and permit streamlining, this bill centers bipartisan solutions that increase equitable access to the outdoors." - Taldi Harrison, director of community and government affairs, REI Co-op

"America’s public lands – and the vast economy powered by outdoor recreation – represent a vital part of our cultural heritage for future generations. But keeping that promise requires that we modernize how we manage these resources, respond to new and evolving challenges, and facilitate a wide variety of recreation pursuits – from hiking to off-roading to bringing the kids on their first camping trip, all of which sustain good jobs and support local communities. We built Rivian to pursue an optimistic bet on our future and expand equitable and sustainable access to the outdoors. As part of that goal, we strongly support passage of the bipartisan America’s Outdoor Recreation Act to strengthen the outdoor economy for the benefit of every American." - Dan West, director of public policy, Rivian

"The EXPLORE Act is crucial to the RV industry and the wider outdoor recreation industry. It remains a significant factor in making sustainable improvements to our nation’s campgrounds and improving the experiences of current and future RVers. In addition, the Act provides greater access to the health benefits offered by the great outdoors and offers an economic boost to both the local and national economies. We would also like to thank Congressmen Westerman and Grijalva for their steadfast leadership. Our government affairs team will be continuing to advocate in support of EXPLORE Act, and we call on Congress for its swift passage." - Craig Kirby, president and CEO, RV Industry Association

"SCI has long believed that increased access to federal lands for outdoor recreation, inclusive of hunting and angling, should always carry bi-partisan support. That is why SCI is excited to support the EXPLORE Act as introduced by House Natural Resources Committee Chair Bruce Westerman and Ranking Member Raul Grijalva. In an age where outdoor sporting culture is increasingly under attack, SCI and our members are reassured when Congress can agree to make it easier for disabled hunters to go afield, improve and build public shooting ranges, and simply reduce barriers for America’s hunters and anglers to practice these great traditions on America’s public land." - Ben Cassidy, executive vice president, Safari Club International

"SEMA thanks Chairman Westerman and Ranking Member Grijalva for introducing the EXPLORE Act. This bipartisan bill would streamline the process and expenses associated with obtaining special recreation permits, require federal land management agencies to increase opportunities for motorized and non-motorized access on public lands, and direct the BLM and Forest Service to make maps available to the public depicting where vehicles are allowed to recreate." - Mike Spagnola, president and CEO, Specialty Equipment Market Association

"The Surfrider Foundation believes that access to our outdoors, and particularly our coasts, is a universal right. We are thrilled to see the EXPLORE Act remove barriers of entry for people to recreate and learn on public lands and waters. Surfrider is grateful to Representative Westerman and Representative Grijalva for introducing this policy to protect outdoor recreation experiences for all to enjoy." - Zach Plopper Sr. Environmental Director, Surfrider Foundation

"The EXPLORE Act will create new and expanded opportunities for hunters, anglers, and other recreationists to enjoy time outdoors. TRCP appreciates Representative Westerman and Representative Grijalva for their leadership in considering and advancing this important bipartisan legislative package that will enhance recreational access to our nation’s public lands and waters." - Joel Webster, vice president of western conservation, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership

"VF applauds the bipartisan dedication to support the outdoor industry and expand access to our treasured public lands in the EXPLORE ACT. Increased federal support for outdoor recreation is critical to enabling access for everyone in every community to get outside. We thank Chairman Westerman and Ranking Member Grijalva for their unwavering support of the outdoors.  We look forward to the swift passage of the Explore Act." Julie Sutton, Senior Director Government Affairs, VF Corporation