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EXPLORE Act Passes in the House of Representatives, One Step Closer to Law

Yesterday, the EXPLORE (Expanding Public Lands Outdoor Recreation Experiences) Act passed in the U.S. House of Representatives with “overwhelming bipartisan support.” The proposed legislation aims to support and expand efforts to broaden Americans’ access to the outdoors.

Representatives Bruce Westerman and Raúl Grijalva co-sponsor the bill, which would establish an interagency council on outdoor recreation and formally assess recreation resources and how they can be improved, expanded, or enhanced. It would also facilitate the development of new long-distance bike trails, create new sites for overnight camping, and work with stakeholders to identify needs of gateway communities and address overcrowding.

The EXPLORE Act further includes stipulations for improving access to the outdoors for people with disabilities and those from disadvantaged communities. If it becomes law, it would also promote opportunities for military service members and veterans and preserve free access to federally managed parks, lands, and waters to fourth graders and their families.

What Advocates Say

EXPLORE Act advocates like the Sierra Club believe the legislation will “unlock opportunities” for more Americans to experience the great outdoors.

“Many families struggle to safely or affordably access our public lands,” said Robert Scott, the Sierra Club’s deputy director of federal policy, in a statement. “Whether it’s inaccessible trails that people with mobility issues cannot use, a lack of parks within walking distance of a family’s neighborhood, or the increasing costs of planning large trips to visit a national park, all our communities deserve to enjoy nature and outdoor recreation amenities.”

Many in the outdoors industry have come forward with supportive statements for the bill. Some praise it for its stipulations that would ease permitting requirements and preserve access to fixed anchors for rock climbers.

For instance, Matt Wade, executive director, American Mountain Guides Association, said: “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.”

Th House passed the EXPLORE Act on April 9, and it will now go on to the Senate.

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