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House passes EXPLORE Act — improving access to public lands

u.s. capitol building
Source: Congresswoman Uifa’atali Amata ‘s D.C. staff

Washington, D.C. — Congresswoman Uifa’atali Amata is an original cosponsor of the Expanding Public Lands Outdoor Recreation Experiences (EXPLORE) Act, H.R. 6492, which the House passed Tuesday in a bipartisan vote. This comprehensive bill was introduced by Natural Resources Committee Chairman Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) with Ranking Member Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) to improve access and transform outdoor recreation opportunities on America’s public lands.

“I welcome House passage of another good bill from our Committee, and I’m happy to be an original cosponsor of the bipartisan EXPLORE Act,” said Congresswoman Aumua Amata. “Generations to come will benefit from strengthening parks and recreational areas. We have our own beautiful National Park of American Samoa along with outdoor activities for our young people here that can look to this bill for future support. Nationally, through this bill, Congress is promoting recreation opportunities for active service members and veterans, improving access for children and individuals with disabilities, supporting bike and hike trails, clarifying access for sportsmen and women, streamlining permitting for guides, protecting rock climbing in iconic places, enhancing park facilities and technology, and modernizing campgrounds.”

Chairman Westerman said, “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.”

Ranking Member Grijalva said, “All Americans should have access to the unique recreational opportunities on our prized public lands, and I’m confident the EXPLORE Act will be a critical catalyst in realizing that goal. I’m especially heartened by the bill’s provisions to promote accessibility for the disability community, increase job opportunities for veterans, and close the nature gap in underserved urban communities. It’s critical that we build on this progress to support place-based conservation and restoration and further invest in land management agencies so we can sustainably manage our public lands for future generations. The EXPLORE Act combined with these efforts can help ensure that the outdoors is for all. I want to thank Chairman Westerman for his partnership on this important legislation.”

The nationwide outdoor recreation economy creates over $1 trillion in economic output and supports some five million jobs. The bill attracted enthusiastic public support by more than 100 outdoor-oriented organizations, representing hunting, fishing, horseback riding, boating, camping, biking, rock climbing, and recreation groups.