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Congress Continues to Promote Land Access, Gives Momentum to “Trails Act” Victory
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) introduced the “Recreation Not Red-Tape Act (RNR)” (S. 1633, H.R. 3400), legislation that expands the scope of the National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act (PL 114-245), 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 Department of Agriculture (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.
Chairman Bishop and Sen. Wyden worked closely on the bill to emphasize key issues – especially outdoor recreation permit streamlining – that will likely attract bipartisan support. GOP staff with the House Natural Resources Committee, which is the committee of jurisdiction for federal land issues, are encouraging AHC 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.
To review a summary of the legislation, please see the following link: https://www.wyden.senate.gov/download/?id=DDF411A6-5D21-40BD-B17C-2BF73A2B9C51&download=1. If you would like more information about the RNR Act and related lobbying activity, please contact Bryan Brendle at email@example.com or 202-296-4031.