Senate Brings Back America’s Outdoor Recreation Act
By: Noa Banayan, PeopleForBikes’ director of federal affairs
The reintroduced package prioritizes recreation and mountain biking on public lands nationwide.
Update: On Wednesday, May 17, the America's Outdoor Recreation Act received a positive vote in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The bill, which includes priority policies to identify long distance bike trails and streamline the recreation permitting process, will move to the full Senate for a vote in the near future.
Last month, leaders for the outdoors in the U.S. Senate reintroduced America’s Outdoor Recreation Act (AORA) (S.873). The bipartisan legislative package encompasses multiple bills that promote and expand access to outdoor recreation, including several priorities specific to mountain biking.
“America’s Outdoor Recreation Act will make biking and mountain biking experiences on our public lands more accessible, sustainable, and enjoyable for all, helping grow demand for bicycling as a low-cost, zero-emission, tourism-driving activity," said PeopleForBikes President and CEO Jenn Dice. "This package proves that bike policy brings both sides of the aisle together to grow infrastructure and access. We look forward to working with the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on advancing this first-of-its-kind bipartisan investment in the future of recreation."
Senate Energy and Natural Resources (SENR) Committee Chairman Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Ranking Member John Barrasso (R-WY) led the reintroduction of AORA, signaling their intent to move the package swiftly through their committee this Congress. We wrote about one of the main bills included within AORA, the Biking on Long Distance Trails (BOLT) Act (H.R. 1319/S. 605), when it was introduced separately earlier this month. The short of it: BOLT would identify potential long-distance bike trails on and across federal public lands, promoting sustainable tourism and rural economic development through biking.
In addition to the BOLT Act, PeopleForBikes strongly supports the Simplifying Outdoor Access to Recreation (SOAR) Act (H.R. 1527 in the House), which is included in the Senate’s AORA. The SOAR provision would streamline the currently burdensome recreation permitting process, lessening the duplicative paperwork required of guides and outfitters for multi-day and multi-jurisdictional bike trips.
Senators Manchin and Barrasso first introduced AORA in 2022 and though it cleared a committee-level vote, the package unfortunately failed to advance further because of a few differences within the House version. We’ve been building momentum for pro-recreation policy for several years and we’re optimistic about the potential for the two chambers to come together on a bipartisan recreation package this Congress.
PeopleForBikes is joined by an impressive coalition of outdoor recreation industries and advocates in support of AORA, including boats, motorcycles, and RVs. Check out the statement from our partners at the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable to see who else backs this package.
PeopleForBikes applauds the SENR Committee leadership for continuing the legacy of the Great American Outdoors Act of 2020 with this new package. We look forward to working with the bicycle industry, champions for outdoor recreation in Congress, and our national advocacy partners to swiftly move America’s Outdoor Recreation Act through the legislative process.