Politics

EXPLORE Act passes in House with hopes to boost outdoor recreation, public lands access

WASHINGTON D.C. — The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the EXPLORE Act, spearheaded by Representative John Curtis (R-UT). The package includes bills aimed at enhancing access to the nation’s public lands and waters. The legislation—comprising the SOAR Act, PARC Act, Connect Our Parks Act and BOLT Act—is poised to bring benefits to Utah’s scenic landscapes and hope to bolster the outdoor recreation economy and ensure the preservation of public lands for future generations. It will now move to the Senate for approval.

Rep. Curtis expressed his enthusiasm, stating, “Passage of the EXPLORE Act is a testament to our collective commitment to enhancing and preserving access to America’s stunning public lands and waters. I’m proud to have contributed to this significant step forward in ensuring our kids and grandkids will be able to enjoy our state as much as I have.”

Chairman Bruce Westerman noted the BOLT and EXPLORE Act’s benefit to the outdoor community, stating, “Everyone from rock climbers to long-distance bikers and anyone who enjoys recreating in his home state of Utah and across the nation will benefit.”

Todd Keller, the Director of Government Affairs for the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) complimented the consideration of physical, mental, and economic significance of outdoor recreation with the passage of the bills.

“The mountain bike community is specifically excited about the Biking on Long Distance Trails (BOLT) Act that has been included within the text of the underlying bill. The BOLT Act will identify at least 10 existing long-distance bike trails and identify at least 10 areas where there is an opportunity to develop or complete such trails. The bill will also direct the Department of Interior to publish and distribute maps, install signage, and distribute promotional materials. We now look to the Senate for quick action this summer to pass the EXPLORE Act and get it to the President’s desk before the August recess,” Keller said.

Key components of the legislation include modernizing technology for better visitor experiences, streamlining permitting processes, reducing overcrowding in parks, and enhancing public safety through increased broadband and cellular service. Notably, the Connect Our Parks Act will directly benefit National Parks by developing plans to increase internet and cellular service, a move crucial for public safety and visitor experience.

For Summit County and Park City, the EXPLORE Act represents not just an opportunity to enhance outdoor recreation but also to address broader issues like housing shortages, parking, and infrastructure challenges exacerbated by overcrowding. This is aimed at supporting gateway communities and ensuring the sustainable growth of the outdoor recreation economy.

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