Will Congress Act to Help People Access the Outdoors?


Washington, DC: Congress is busy with a number of important issues, but our awe-inspiring public lands are still on their minds. Like us, many lawmakers and their staff love to get outside. Throughout the halls of Congress, you’ll find people who climb, ski, fish, kayak and backpack during their time off.

For plenty of climbers, guided trips and facilitated experiences provide important exposure to rugged terrain, vast wilderness areas and even easy-access crags for the first time. No doubt many of you have benefited from these kinds of opportunities through groups like NOLS, Outward Bound and private guides.

However, it’s not easy for these outdoor experience providers to make trips happen on our collectively-owned public lands. They are required to navigate an antiquated and complex federal system to get recreational permits from the Forest Service and Park Service in particular. Although agencies and Congress have made steps to remedy these problems, we’re still dealing with unnecessary red tape.

There’s good news, however: today, Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) introduced the Simplifying Outdoor Access for Recreation Act (SOAR Act) to increase recreational access to America's public lands. This legislation would improve the outfitter and guide permitting systems and positively impact small businesses, non-profit outdoor leadership organizations, university recreation programs, and volunteer-based clubs, including the AAC.

The SOAR Act still has a ways to go to become law, but we’re hopeful that Congress will pass this no-brainer, bipartisan legislation; a win for all of us! When the opportunity strikes, we’ll send out an action alert so that you can easily write your member of Congress and tell them to get on board. Until then, reach out to your policy team for more ways to get involved. #SOARfortheOutdoors

Maria Millard Povec: [email protected]

Taylor Luneau: [email protected]