Conservation News

EXPLORE Act Aimed to Improve Outdoor Recreation Experiences

EDGEFIELD, S.C. —The National Wild Turkey Federation applauds the introduction of the Expanding Public Lands Outdoor Recreation Experiences (EXPLORE) Act, which, if passed, will increase outdoor recreation opportunities for people with disabilities, active-duty service members as well as hunters and anglers.

The comprehensive, bipartisan and bicameral legislation was introduced by Natural Resources Committee Chairman Bruce Westerman (R-AR) and Ranking Member Rául Grijalva (D-AZ) to improve access and transform outdoor recreation opportunities on our public lands and waters.

Similar to the America’s Outdoor Recreation Act (AORA), introduced in the Senate earlier this summer by Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Ranking Member John Barrasso (R-WY), the bill:

  • Modernizes technology to improve visitor experiences, such as increasing broadband connectivity at recreation sites, creating digital recreation passes, and creating new pilot programs to monitor visitation.
  • Streamlines the permitting process and reduces burdensome fees for small businesses that depend on reliable access to public lands, including outfitters and guides.
  • Reduces overcrowding by creating new and innovative models to encourage public recreation in less-traveled areas.
  • Supports gateway communities by addressing housing shortages, parking and infrastructure issues, and challenges due to overcrowding.
  • Transforms accessibility for individuals with disabilities by creating new accessible trails and recreation opportunities across our public lands.

“While we saw people getting outdoors, including hunting, in record numbers during the COVID pandemic, hunting participation has resumed its downward trend now that the country and our lives have normalized,” NWTF co-CEO Jason Burckhalter said. “This bill, and the Senate’s AORA, will ease access to our nation’s public lands, improve the outdoor experience for millions of people and boost rural economies that depend on them.”

Across the nation, outdoor recreation supports more than 5 million jobs and represents more than 2.2% of the country’s GDP, translating to an annual gross impact of $1.1 trillion to the U.S. economy.

About the National Wild Turkey Federation

Since 1973, the National Wild Turkey Federation has invested over half a billion dollars into wildlife conservation and has conserved or enhanced over 22 million acres of critical wildlife habitat. The organization continues to drive wildlife conservation, forest resiliency and robust recreational opportunities throughout the U.S. by working across boundaries on a landscape scale.

2023 is the NWTF’s 50 th anniversary and an opportunity to propel the organization’s mission into the future while honoring its rich history. For its 50 th anniversary, the NWTF has set six ambitious goals: positively impact 1 million acres of wildlife habitat; raise $500,000 for wild turkey research; increase membership to 250,000 members; dedicate $1 million to education and outreach programs; raise $5 million to invest in technology and NWTF’s people; and raise $5 million to build toward a $50 million endowment for the future.  Learn how you can help us reach these lofty goals.

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