New Legislation Seeks to Improve Permitting System
Outdoor organizations and businesses across the country praised Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) today for introducing the Public Land Recreational Opportunities Improvement Act (PLROIA). This bipartisan legislation makes changes to the outfitter and guide permitting systems of the federal land agencies to make permits easier for outfitters and guides to acquire and maintain, and less complicated for land agencies to issue and manage. Here is an overview of the changes proposed in PLROIA:
- It directs the agencies to simplify the environmental review process for issuing and managing permits, making it easier for recreation service providers to obtain permits, increase service days, and add new activities
- It allows trips that cross land agency boundaries to have a single permit instead of multiple permits
- It prevents the land agencies from reducing a recreation service provider’s allocation for reasons beyond their control (wildfire, low-snow year, etc.)
- It allows recreation service providers to use liability release forms in places where those have been prohibited (for example, with the NPS)
- It directs the agencies to *not* conduct a needs assessment as a condition for issuing a permit, reducing paperwork and streamlining the permitting process
- It directs the Forest Service to issue temporary permits for up to 2 years and allow those permits to convert to a longer term after two years of satisfactory performance
- It waives the indemnification requirement for institutions that are prohibited by state or local law from indemnifying the federal government, such as university outdoor programs
- It allows the agencies to use a portion of permit fees for expenses associated with processing applications and improving the operation of the special recreation permit system
- It allows a recreation service provider to inform participants of any fees charged by the land agencies
- It directs the agencies to notify the public of the availability of permits
- It provides permanent authorization for the land agencies to issue permits and use fees to administer the permit system
PLROIA has broad support from the outdoor industry including Outdoor Industry Association, American Alpine Club, American Mountain Guides Association, The Wilderness Society, REI, Association of Outdoor Recreation & Education, The Mountaineers, NOLS, The YMCA, The Mazamas, Transforming Youth Outdoors, and many more.
The AMGA was involved in the creation and promotion of the bill in partnership with our friends at The Coalition for Outdoor Access. AMGA members and Coalition partners stepped up at the critical moment to lobby support for cosponsorship of the bill in West Virginia and raise awareness with Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee members and staff. The AMGA and its membership will continue to advocate for the bill’s passage.
Click here to view the press release issued by The Coalition for Outdoor Access.
Click here to view the full bill text (S.3550).
For questions, please contact Matt Wade, AMGA Advocacy and Policy Director, at 303-847-4482 or [email protected]