Cantwell, Murkowski Introduce ‘Recreation for All Act’ to Boost Outdoor Rec on Public Lands

Bill aims to increase youth visits, collect better visitor data, and improve recreational experiences

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced the Recreation for All Act which directs the four primary land management agencies – the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Fish & Wildlife Service, and National Park Service – to increase outdoor recreational opportunities for youth, including underserved youth, pilot new technologies to better track the number and type of recreational visitors to federal land, and require land management agencies to improve their online communication to visitors about road and trail closures. These bipartisan provisions are likely to be considered and voted on by the members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee later this month.

“Everyone benefits when we make outdoor recreation easier to take part in,” said Sen. Cantwell. “One of the goals of this bill is to get more kids hiking on our trails and discovering the joys of outdoor recreation, which will help ensure that our public lands are cared for and flourish into the future.” 

“Alaska’s outdoor recreation opportunities are the best in the nation. The Recreation for All Act features common-sense policies that will increase visitation to our public lands with a particular focus on young people, the transparency of land management decisions, and help ensure a world-class visitor experience both now and for generations to come,” said Sen. Murkowski.

The Recreation for All Act would:

  1. Require the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop a national strategy to increase youth recreation visits to federal lands, with a focus on underserved youth.
  2. Require relevant land management agencies to pilot the use of new technologies to collect comprehensive visitor data.
  3. Require relevant land management agencies to immediately inform the public about closures or other access issues for roads, trails, or other public areas on their websites.
  4. Require the OMB to issue an annual report on the total amount of federal funding spent on outdoor recreation to avoid duplicating funds and help Congress allocate funds appropriately.

Sen. Cantwell has been a consistent champion for outdoor recreation and preserving public lands, with a long history of securing funding to protect Washington’s natural resources. When the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) authorization expired in 2015 for the first time in its 50-year history, Sen. Cantwell successfully led the fight to reauthorize the fund for three years despite strong opposition from leaders in the House of Representatives. She also coauthored and cosponsored The Great American Outdoors Act, which was signed into law in August 2020 and permanently extended and fully funded the LWCF and invested billions of dollars to address the maintenance backlog on public lands throughout Washington state and around the country.

America’s outdoor recreation economy generates over $450 billion in annual gross domestic product and supports 4.5 million American jobs. In Washington state alone, the outdoor recreation economy contributes over $12 billion in value added annually and supports over 114,000 direct jobs. In fiscal year 2019, the Department of Interior’s lands hosted an estimated 501 million visitors.

The full bill text is available HERE.