House lawmakers vote unanimously to pass the EXPLORE Act

April 10, 2024

With outdoor recreation participation growing, Outdoor Alliance celebrates the passage of an outdoor recreation policy package that creates opportunities to improve how public lands are managed

Washington, D.C. (April 10, 2024) /OUTDOOR SPORTSWIRE/ – Yesterday, on a voice vote, House lawmakers passed the Expanding Public Lands Outdoor Recreation Experiences (EXPLORE) Act, a first-of-its-kind bipartisan package of outdoor recreation policy to improve outdoor recreation on America’s public lands and waters. The passage of this outdoor recreation policy package creates opportunities to improve how public lands are managed to enhance outdoor experiences for all. The EXPLORE Act includes many key bills that Outdoor Alliance and its partners have helped develop and refine alongside lawmakers. The Senate is expected to take up the bill in coming weeks, as it has already introduced bipartisan companion legislation, America’s Outdoor Recreation Act (AORA) that has passed out of committee.

Millions of Americans get outside on public lands and waters each year, with participation growing rapidly, according to recently released economic and participation data. The EXPLORE Act aims to improve outdoor recreation on America’s public lands and waters and will also help land managers coordinate their efforts to improve access to nature and expand green space in communities that need it most.

“Outdoor Alliance is thrilled to see the House pass the EXPLORE Act, a first-of-its-kind package of outdoor recreation policy that will improve and protect outdoor recreation experiences on public lands and waters,” said Louis Geltman, VP of Policy and Government Relations, Outdoor Alliance. “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.”

“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,” said Tom Vogl, CEO, The Mountaineers.” The Mountaineers is thrilled to see the House pass the EXPLORE Act, and is grateful to Representative Westerman and Representative Grijalva for their leadership to help connect more people with their public lands and waters.”

Highlights from the policy include:

  • The Biking on Long Distance Trails Act (BOLT Act) identifies and creates more long-distance bike trails
  • The Protecting America’s Rock Climbing Act (PARC Act) safeguards Wilderness climbing
  • The Simplifying Outdoor Access for Recreation Act (SOAR Act) improves recreational permitting for outfitters and guides
  • Codifies FICOR and the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership, which funds parks and green spaces in neighborhoods that need it most

“The International Mountain Bicycling Association is thrilled the House of Representatives understands the physical, mental, and economic importance of outdoor recreation on our public lands, evidenced by the passage of the Expanding Public Lands Outdoor Recreation Experiences (EXPLORE) Act,” said Todd Keller, Director of Government Affairs, International Mountain Bicycling Association. “The mountain bike community is specifically excited about the Biking on Long Distance Trails (BOLT) Act that has been included within the text of the underlying bill. The BOLT Act will identify at least 10 existing long-distance bike trails and identify at least 10 areas where there is an opportunity to develop or complete such trails. The bill will also direct the Department of Interior to publish and distribute maps, install signage, and distribute promotional materials. We now look to the Senate for quick action this summer to pass the EXPLORE Act and get it to the President’s desk before the August recess.”

“Winter Wildlands Alliance is excited that this legislation recognizes the need to improve recreation management and equitable access on public lands in all seasons,” said Hilary Eisen, Policy Director, Winter Wildlands Alliance. “Among other positive elements of the bill, we are pleased that the EXPLORE Act would prioritize completion of meaningful travel planning in order to minimize resource impacts and use conflicts in winter, followed by the long overdue publication of practical winter use maps for the recreating public.”

“I applaud the U.S. House of Representatives for passing a bipartisan recreation package that benefits climbers, our public lands, local communities, and all of us who love recreating and spending time in nature,” said Heather Thorne, Executive Director, Access Fund. “And I urge the Senate to build on this momentum by quickly passing America’s Outdoor Recreation Act so that President Biden can sign legislation protecting sustainable Wilderness climbing access into law.”

To learn more, please visit www.outdooralliance.org.

About Outdoor Alliance

Outdoor Alliance is the only organization in the U.S. that unites the voices of outdoor enthusiasts to conserve public lands. A nonprofit coalition comprised of 10 national advocacy organizations, Outdoor Alliance’s members include American Whitewater, the American Canoe Association, Access Fund, the International Mountain Bicycling Association, Winter Wildlands Alliance, the Mountaineers, the American Alpine Club, the Mazamas, the Colorado Mountain Club, and the Surfrider Foundation. By working with its member coalitions and helping mobilize the involvement of individuals to protect public lands and waters, OA helps ensure public lands are managed in a way that embraces the human-powered experience. Outdoor Alliance — conservation powered by outdoor recreation. Learn more at OutdoorAlliance.org.


Media Contact:

Outdoor Alliance

Tania Lown-Hecht, Vice President of Communications and Strategy