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KANW is a member of the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration of public media stations that serves the Western states of Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. Our mission is to tell stories about the people, places and issues across the Mountain West.From land and water management to growth in the expanding West to our unique culture and heritage, we'll explore the issues that define us and the challenges we face.

Recreation bill takes unanimous step forward in U.S. House

 Two people are seen fishing into the Boise River. It is dusk, but you can see their silhouettes on the background.
Murphy Woodhouse
/
Mountain West News Bureau

A piece of legislation that seeks to improve access to public lands and address a number of recreation issues made it out of a U.S. House committee by unanimous consent last week.

The EXPLORE Act would do many things, including: streamline permitting for guides, allow online purchase of public lands passes, improve access for veterans and those with disabilities, and incentivize building long-distance bike trails.

This week the bill made it out of its House committee, joining a companion Senate bill, the Outdoor Recreation Act of 2023, that made it out last summer.

“That sets us up for great progress for not just action on the Senate floor, but also the House floor,” said Jessica Turner, president of the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable, which represents that industry. She acknowledged Congress’ tumultuous recent history, but said that recreation brings legislators together.

“This is the power of the outdoors,” she said. “You are not a Republican biker or a Democrat biker or a Republican fisherman or, you know, Democrat fisherman. Everyone who enjoys the outdoors can put that partisanship aside.”

She said progress on the bill bodes well for future legislative efforts to improve recreation policy.

The outdoor recreation sector contributes some $560 billion to the country’s GDP, and its impact is particularly strong in a number of Western states.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, KUNC in Colorado and KANW in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Hey everyone! I’m Murphy Woodhouse, Boise State Public Radio’s Mountain West News Bureau reporter.