Do You Love Recreation More Than Red Tape?
Welcome to the first in a series of “Call to Action” guest blog posts from the incredible nonprofit organizations we work with. Who better to dive into the important issues highlighted in our digital Call to Action phone booth than the groups leading the effort to take action for better, day after day. Read on to learn more, and then let your representatives know where you stand. Our digital Call to Action phone booth makes it easy and quick to make your voice heard.
By Tania Lown-Hecht and Louis Geltman, Outdoor Alliance
If you love human-powered adventure and public lands, then you’ve likely benefited from the hard work of one of Outdoor Alliance’s nine member organizations. (And you'll want to keep reading to learn more about important legislation that affects your access to the open spaces you enjoy.)
Access Fund, the American Canoe Association, American Whitewater, IMBA, Winter Wildlands Alliance, The Mountaineers, the American Alpine Club, the Mazamas, and the Colorado Mountain Club make up Outdoor Alliance—a national nonprofit coalition that brings the voice of outdoor recreation users to public land policy. By connecting millions of outdoor enthusiasts, Outdoor Alliance works to protect, promote, and enhance human-powered recreation, and ensures the best protections for places that matter to the outdoor recreation community.
Outdoor Alliance has been grateful to work with KEEN over the years to bring more attention to public lands issues and to inspire outdoor enthusiasts to take action to protect our public lands. One effort we’re excited to be working on with KEEN is a bill in Congress, the Recreation Not Red-Tape Act (RNR), that has the potential to be one of the most positive developments in years for protecting the places we care about and helping land managers do a better job in facilitating access.
The Recreation Not Red-Tape Act includes provisions that will help ensure that more people have ready access to the experiences provided by America’s public lands. The bill’s provisions would:
• Offer support of state offices of outdoor recreation
• Improve the availability of federal and state recreation passes and make possible their online sale, while improving special use permitting for outfitters and guides
• Improve access to outdoor recreation programs for service members and veterans
• Extend seasonal recreation opportunities where appropriate
• Direct management agencies to develop recreation performance metrics for the evaluation of land managers
• Add recreation to the mission of important land management agencies, including the Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation, FERC, and the Department of Transportation
• Help land managers accept volunteers to conduct stewardship activities, and facilitate trail maintenance across agency jurisdictions.
Most importantly, RNR helps identify and protect important areas for outdoor recreation through a National Recreation Area System. Right now, there’s no good system in place to help develop protections for landscapes based on their recreational value. This means that a lot of places we care about—especially accessible places in the frontcountry—get overlooked for protections and left subject to development pressure or inappropriate management. With RNR, land managers would be instructed to look for these important places, enabling Congress to take better action and protect more of them.
Our lawmakers are elected to represent us, and they have to work on an overwhelming number of issues every day. Even when they’re inclined to do the right thing, helping them see an issue as a priority can mean the difference between a bill passing and it languishing.
RNR has had great momentum in Congress in the last few months, and it’s gaining co-sponsors and has had good hearings. But it needs help from people who love the outdoors if we’re going to see it across the finish line. Congress doesn't exactly move quickly these days, and if you want to help us build support for this bill, you can make a call or write a letter to ask your members of Congress to support this legislation and outdoor recreation.
Our lawmakers are elected to represent us, and they have to work on an overwhelming number of issues every day. Even when they’re inclined to do the right thing, helping them see an issue as a priority can mean the difference between a bill passing and it languishing. When we speak up, our elected officials listen. When you take three minutes to make a phone call or write a letter, it truly does affect what your elected officials decide to spend time working on. So make a call or write a letter today, and you could reap the benefits of improved outdoor recreation tomorrow.