House Passes EXPLORE Act

House Passes EXPLORE Act

On Tuesday April 9, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 6492, the Expanding Public Lands Outdoor Recreation Experiences (EXPLORE) Act by a voice vote. The bipartisan legislation, led by House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) and Ranking Member Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), aims to improve outdoor recreation access on public lands and water. The House bill is complementary to the Senate’s bipartisan version known as the America’s Outdoor Recreation Act, which is led by Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and John Barrasso. (R-Wyo.). Both pieces of legislation compile individual bills that have been supported by a wide variety of conservation and outdoor recreation organizations.

According to a press release from the Committee, the legislation will:

  • Improve access to public lands and waters for outdoor recreation,
  • Modernize technology to improve visitor experiences, like increasing broadband connectivity and creating digital recreation passes,
  • Streamline the permitting process and reduce fees for small businesses that depend on public land access,
  • Protect rock climbing in iconic places and create new long-distance bike trails,
  • Restore campgrounds and modernize infrastructure,
  • Support gateway communities by addressing housing shortages and outdated infrastructure, and
  • Improve accessibility for military service members, veterans, individuals with disabilities and kids.

Chairman Westerman stated: “Access to America's beautiful public lands and waters is part of what makes our country the greatest nation on earth. These incredible resources should be shared by all Americans, and expanding access and recreation opportunities is the kind of bipartisan work that we’re here in Congress to do. As an avid outdoorsman, I'm proud to champion the EXPLORE Act and see it pass out of the House today. This seminal piece of legislation will modernize visitor experiences, increase accessibility for veterans and service members, create new opportunities and trails for climbers and bikers, and support small businesses and gateway communities that depend on access to our public lands. This legislation also includes key priorities for my constituents back home in Arkansas, including reopening overnight campgrounds, protecting battlefields, and creating new parking and restroom facilities. I'd like to thank Ranking Member Grijalva and the many other members on both sides of the aisle who have contributed to this bill. I look forward to working with Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Manchin and Ranking Member Barrasso, who are leading companion legislation in the Senate, to see the EXPLORE Act move swiftly through the Senate and ultimately into law.”

April 16, 2024