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Bipartisan bill seeks to update outdoor recreational infrastructure

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A bill that seeks to remove barriers for improving outdoor recreational infrastructure was introduced in the U.S. House and Senate on Wednesday in an effort to boost rural communities across the country.

The bipartisan bill, called the “Recreation Not Red Tape Act,” was introduced in the Senate by U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Joni Ernst, R-Iowa.

A companion bill was introduced in the House Natural Resources Committee by ranking members Rob Bishop, R-Utah and Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich.

The bipartisan RNR Act would promote access to outdoor recreation opportunities and allow more visitors to get outdoors, according to the bill’s cosponsors.

The RNR Act would streamline the permitting process for guides and recreation enthusiasts, hold federal agencies accountable for making outdoor recreation a priority for the first time, and increase volunteerism to address the maintenance backlog on America’s public lands.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association joined other outdoor groups in applauding the bill, saying that outdoor recreation is one of the fastest-growing sectors of the U.S. economy.

"Today's outdoor recreation policies remain outdated and are not reflective of the industry's considerable contributions to the U.S. economy,” said Nicole Vasilaros, NMMA senior vice president of government and legal affairs, in a statement. “The RNR Act offers sensible, non-controversial proposals that eliminate hurdles to outdoor recreation, improves public land management, and will bolster a critical sector of the economy. Additionally, this legislation would improve the outdoor recreation experience for all enthusiasts.”

The RNR Act also includes the Simplifying Outdoor Access for Recreation Act, or SOAR Act, introduced by Sens. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M, and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., which would improve outdoor recreation permitting processes.

“Right now, there’s too much bureaucratic red tape getting in the way of nature enthusiasts and the small businesses that help them take advantage of the endless recreation experiences our public lands offer,” said Wyden in a separate statement. “This bill is about breaking cumbersome and unnecessary barriers to outdoor recreation in the spirit of local job creation and access to our treasured public lands.”

Too often, bureaucratic red-tape and burdensome processes prevent updates at national parks and public lands, said Ernst.

“Hunters and fishers are the stewards of our land and responsible for much of the conservation efforts,” said Dingell. “This bipartisan bill supports sportsman and reduces barriers to access the outdoors, while maintaining strong support for conservation. We must work together to protect the environment, endangered species, and our traditions.”

Access a one-page summary of the bill here

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