Congress Continues to Promote Land Access
On July 26, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Representative Rob Bishop (R-UT) introduced the “Recreation Not Red-Tape (RNR)” Act (S 1633/HR 3400), legislation that expands the scope of the National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act (PL 114-245), which was signed into law in late 2016.
While the RNR focuses on streamlined permitting to access public lands, the bill includes provisions that would authorize the Department of the Interior, through the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), to enter into cooperative agreements with private parties to promote the role of volunteers in trail maintenance. The bill also authorizes the USDA and BLM to develop an interagency trail management plan that will assure uniform maintenance standards for trails crossing jurisdictional lines between the two agencies.
The Trails Act outlines a detailed program including goals and timetables by which the USDA will leverage private partners to clear trails long overdue for maintenance. Unlike the RNR Act, which applies to both the BLM and USDA’s National Forest System (NFS), the Trails Act focuses only on trails under the jurisdiction of the NFS.
Bishop and Wyden worked closely on the bill to emphasize key issues—especially outdoor recreation permit streamlining—that will likely attract bipartisan support. Republican staff with the House Natural Resources Committee, the committee of jurisdiction for federal land issues, are encouraging American Horse Council and allies to help drive cosponsors for the legislation, which currently has none. Committee staff also state that the Subcommittee on Federal Lands will conduct a markup in late September or October, giving members the opportunity to offer technical corrections and amendments to the text
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