U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden introduced a bill Wednesday that aims to simplify the permitting process for outdoor recreation on public lands.
The Oregon Democrat says getting outdoors often requires obtaining permits, parking passes and camping fees that can be confusing, complicated and time-consuming.
He wants to cut the red tape around access to public lands to encourage outdoor recreation, giving an economic boost to surrounding communities.
The Recreation Not Red Tape Act, co-sponsored with U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, requires the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management to review their permitting processes with an eye toward minimizing costs and processing times, and create educational materials to help people applying for permits.
Among other directives to federal agencies, the bill would:
- direct agencies to make all passes and permits available online
- encourage volunteer opportunities and establish a pilot program to help agencies maintain trails
- require revenue from ski permits on public lands to be invested in projects related to the ski area
- simplify the permitting process for trips that involve crossing multiple agencies’ jurisdiction
- advocate for federal land managers to work with states to create a joint state and federal recreation pass
- encourage federal agencies like the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to consider recreation opportunities when making land and water management decisions
Wyden introduced a similar bill last year. Some elements of the bill eventually passed, such as a study on the economic impacts of outdoor recreation, but others did not.
In a statement, Wyden said the new bill “puts the engine for Oregon’s recreation economy into top gear, creating rural jobs and helping outdoor businesses thrive.”
Wyden said he kept hearing stories of people trying to get outdoors but being stymied by government bureaucracy.
His new bill “will break down barriers to the great outdoors, allowing more visitors to take advantage of the endless recreation experiences our public lands have to offer,” he said.
It has support from numerous outdoor recreation and conservation groups including the Outdoor Industry Association, Trout Unlimited and the Wilderness Society.