What is the SOAR Act?

Photo by Razvan Chisu on Unsplash

According to the official bill summary, the Simplifying Outdoor Access for Recreation Act (SOAR Act) clarifies and “revises provisions regarding special recreation permits for use by individuals and groups to engage in recreational activities on federal recreation lands and waters”. This bill will benefit the outdoor recreation industry, and more specifically, it will greatly benefit the guides and outfitters who operate on public lands. Making it easier for outfitters and guides to obtain permits will ultimately break down barriers for people interested in getting outside by offering more affordable and wider access to guiding services, therefore, enhancing and diversifying access as a whole.

Who are the sponsors/co-sponsors/who introduced it?

  • S. 1665: Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Check out the 15 cosponsors here
  • HR 3895: Rep. Debra Haaland (D-NM), Rep. John Curtis (R-UT) Check out the 15 cosponsors here

Read the full legislative text here:

S. 1665, HR 3879

What does this bill do for the outdoors? 

According to this article published by Outside Magazine, “the SOAR Act promises to:

  • Reduce permit fees, especially for small businesses and organizations
  • Improve and streamline the permitting process by eliminating redundant processes and shortening processing timelines.
  • Increase transparency by notifying the public as soon as new recreation permits are available 
  • Make more recreation opportunities available by directing the agencies to offer short-term permits and create a unique program for sharing unused permit days between different permit holders
  • Increase flexibility for outdoor leaders allowing them to engage in activities that are similar to the activity specified in their permit 
  • Make more recreation opportunities available by directing the agencies to offer more short-term permits and create a program for sharing unused permit service days between permit holders;
  • Simplify the permitting process for trips involving more than one land management agency by authorizing the agencies to issue a single joint permit covering the lands of multiple agencies.
  • Reduce barriers to access for state universities, city recreation departments, and school districts” 

What’s happening now and how to take action:

In the Senate:

Key takeaway from hearing: There is strong bipartisan support for this bill from Senators.

In the House:

Key takeaway from hearing: There is strong bipartisan support for this bill from both members of Congress and witnesses who testified on behalf of land management agencies. 

How can you take action?

Now that hearings are complete and there is strong bipartisan support, it is important to keep up momentum by affirming elected officials that voting “YEAH” for this bill is the right thing to do in the minds of their constituents. Utilize the easy-to-use letter writing tool created by the Outdoor Alliance below to tell your lawmakers that you support the SOAR Act. 

Resources:


NOTE: THIS IS A LIVING RESOURCE! As with all resources on Outdoor Advocacy Project, there is always room to continue the conversation, add a new perspective, bolster the resources, and share new findings. Got something you want to add, change, challenge or amplify? Let us know in the comments, or e-mail team@outdooradvocacy.com to write your own.

Amelia Howe
Amelia Howe

Amelia Howe is an environmental advocacy and policy professional based in Salt Lake City. She analyzes complex legislation, creating digestible summaries that inspire thoughtful engagement. Coffee and climbing fill her time when she isn’t nerding out over the latest policy news. 

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