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Broad outdoor recreation bill moving through U.S. Senate

May 5, 2022, 3:08 PM
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FILE: Draper Mayor Troy Walker and city manager David Dobbins pedal beside each other while taking journalists on a mountain biking tour of the city’s Corner Canyon trail network on Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021. Photo credit: Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — A bill, with a long list of management changes to recreation on public lands, is finding support in the U.S. Senate. Sponsor Joe Manchin (D-WV) calls it “America’s Outdoor Recreation Act of 2022.”

He said it will help rural economies that depend on the recreational use of public land. This includes gateway towns near national parks.

Furthermore, Pitt Grew who is heading Utah’s new Division of Outdoor Recreation, said each of those communities has its own needs. They range from housing support to high-speed internet service.

“The thing is, every gateway community is different,” Grewe told KSL NewsRadio. “There’s not a one-size-fits-all answer to support communities that have a big recreation economy or tourism economy.”

Grewe is hoping the bill will make business operations easier near national parks and forests and other recreation destinations.

“Streamlining the processes for permitting, for guides and outfitters, or permission to do things on public lands from a commercial sense,” Grewe said.

Critics worry the bill could increase visitors

Critics of the bill include the National Parks and Conservation Association. The Deseret News reports they’re concerned the bill could increase the number of visitors to national parks without providing more resources for park staff.

The bill passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on a bipartisan, unanimous vote. While it includes no specific funding for its provisions, Grewe is optimistic it will get the support it needs.

“Recreation is typically not a partisan issue,” he said. “It’s something that both ends of the table can get behind.”

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Broad outdoor recreation bill moving through U.S. Senate