Facilitated Access

Our national forests and grasslands have provided inspiration and peace to millions of Americans. By making it easier for our youth to access these lands and even to participate in helping us maintain and protect their resources, we are ensuring all Americans for generations to come will have the opportunity to experience a national forest, hike its trails, gaze at its mountain peaks, and row in its streams.
— Tom Vilsack, Department of Agriculture Secretary

Individuals and organizations that bring disadvantaged and under-resourced youth onto public lands continue to face challenges in obtaining permits for these activities, particularly for multi-day outdoor excursions in backcountry areas. They may be subject to significant fees, commercial use authorizations, and other requirements when attempting to access public lands. The AAC is working closing with partners from the Coalition for Outdoor Access and the U.S. Forest Service to streamline and simplify the recreational permitting process.

We are encouraged by the progress that has been made in the last several years. In February 2016, while at the AAC Annual Benefit Dinner in Washington, D.C., Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced her initiative to expedite the permit process for those geared at getting kids outside. While she joked the lawyers called it the order for "Increasing Access to Extended Outdoor Experiences for Under-Resourced Youth," she said would affectionately refer to it as the "Walker Permit," after beloved past AAC President Doug Walker. 

Currently, we are advocating for legislation to broaden access to outdoor recreation nationwide by removing barriers and making it easier for more Americans, particularly youth, to get outdoors.