Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chair Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Ranking Member John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) introduced the Outdoor Recreation Act, a package of 14 provisions aimed at improving and increasing outdoor recreation opportunities, including recreational fishing, on federal lands.
Building on recently enacted legislation such as the Great American Outdoors Act and America’s Conservation Enhancement Act, the Outdoor Recreation Act demonstrates a continued commitment from Congressional leaders to ensure federal policies are accommodating Americans’ growing interest in outdoor recreation.
“Recreational fishing participation has grown significantly over the past year and half, benefiting the economy and Americans’ overall wellbeing,” said Glenn Hughes, president of the American Sportfishing Association (ASA). “Federal lands play a pivotal role in providing recreational fishing opportunities. The sportfishing industry is grateful to Sens. Manchin and Barrasso for compiling this comprehensive legislative package that will modernize and enhance management of, and access to, our nation’s public lands.”
The following provisions are of specific importance to the sportfishing industry:
- “Improved Visitation Data” (Sec. 303) will require federal land management agencies to establish a single visitation data management and modeling system for public recreation. As outdoor recreation grows, reliable, comparable and real-time data are crucial for understanding areas of economic growth in outdoor recreation, as well as for managing federal lands.
- “Federal Land and Aquatic Resource Activities Assistance” (Sec. 302) will increase inspections and decontamination of watercraft entering and leaving Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service sites in western states. The goal of this provision is 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. 202) would create an inventory of recreation opportunities at federal lands and require that federal agencies manage these lands in a way that protects and enhances the value of outdoor recreation.
In addition to these provisions, the bill addresses a wide range of outdoor recreation priorities from modernizing campgrounds through public-private partnership to identifying long-distance bike trails on federal lands.
“This landmark legislative package addresses numerous issues related to federal land management that will help keep up with the growing demand from anglers and other outdoor recreationists,” said Mike Leonard, ASA’s vice president of Government Affairs. “We are eager to continue working with Congress to advance this important bill.”