On Tuesday, May 3, the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources unanimously approved the America’s Outdoor Recreation Act of 2022. The legislation is a package of provisions aimed at improving and increasing outdoor recreation opportunities, including recreational fishing, on federal lands. The American Sportfishing Association supports the bill and sent a letter thanking Sens. Joe Manchin (R-W.Va.) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) for moving the bill forward.

“The sportfishing industry thanks Chairman Manchin, Ranking Member Barrasso and the committee members for advancing this incredibly important legislation for America’s outdoor recreation community,” said Glenn Hughes, president of the American Sportfishing Association (ASA). “The America’s Outdoor Recreation Act is a comprehensive set of provisions to ensure our public lands are well managed and conserved to benefit the outdoor recreation economy and all those who love the outdoors.”

The America’s Outdoor Recreation Act contains dozens of separate but related provisions aimed at expanding and enhancing outdoor recreation opportunities at federal lands managed by the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation and the USDA Forest Service. These provisions range from streamlining the permitting processes for guides operating on federal lands, to expanding broadband internet connectivity at recreation sites, to supporting public-private partnerships to expand parking facilities.

The following provisions are of specific importance to the sportfishing industry:

  • Improved Visitation Data (Sec. 144) will require federal land management agencies to establish a single visitation data management and modeling system for public recreation. Reliable, comparable and real-time data are crucial for understanding areas of economic growth in outdoor recreation, and for managing federal lands.
  • Federal Land and Aquatic Resource Activities Assistance (Sec. 404) will increase inspections and decontamination of watercraft entering and leaving Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service sites in western states. This provision aims to help stop the spread of aquatic invasive species between waterways while minimizing disruptions to public access for boating in non-contaminated vessels.
  • Ensuring Recreation is a Management Priority (Sec. 141) would create an inventory of recreation opportunities on federal lands and require that the federal agencies manage these lands to protect and enhance the value of outdoor recreation.

“Increasing fishing participation is one of ASA’s pillars,” said Hughes. “In addition to programs like “Fishing… Share the Fun,” our community needs sound federal policy like America’s Outdoor Recreation Act to ensure that the public has quality places to enjoy fishing.”

The bill now awaits consideration by the full Senate.