The SOAR Act has made significant progress in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources (SENR) Committee in the last two months. The bill was integrated into the first-ever recreation package to be developed by Congress, called “America’s Outdoor Recreation Act of 2022” or “AORA” and was passed out of the SENR Committee with unanimous consent on May 3, 2022. The package now heads to the Senate floor for consideration. Check out the official press release with a quote from the AMGA.
The SOAR Act provisions can be found in Title II of AORA “Amendments to FLREA” (sections 202, 203, 207, and 208) and Title III of AORA “Special Recreation Permits for Outfitting and Guiding.”
When the SOAR Act was integrated into AORA, it underwent extensive revision by SENR Committee staff. The final product is, in many respects, an expanded and improved version of the SOAR Act. In addition to the provisions included in the original SOAR Act, the bill now standardizes the types of permits that can be issued, and the fees that can be charged, by the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Reclamation. It also creates two new types of permits that these agencies can issue. The first is a “2-year transitional permit” that can convert to a 5-year or 10-year permit after four years of satisfactory performance. The second is a “nominal effects permit” that can be issued quickly and easily for low-impact recreational activities that occur on an occasional basis. The bill also creates an incentive program for unused service days to be returned to a pool and made available to others.
Other noteworthy changes include:
In the weeks ahead, the AMGA will be working with SENR Committee staff, staff in Senate offices, and Senators who understand the outdoor recreation industry to make a few necessary amendments to the bill, secure floor time, and ensure swift passage of the bill.