Bill would simplify permitting processes for outdoor guides and outfitters

Americans’ ability to participate in outdoor recreation on our public lands and waters took a major step forward this week with the introduction of the Simplifying Outdoor Access for Recreation (SOAR) Act by Senators Martin Heinrich (D, NM) and Shelley Moore Capito (R, WV). This crucial piece of legislation will make world-class and close-to-home outdoor experiences more accessible by updating the permitting system that guides and outfitters need to operate trips on our treasured places.

The SOAR Act is bipartisan legislation that improves outfitter and guide permitting systems by simplifying processes, increasing flexibility in allowed activities, reducing unnecessary costs of permit administration and much more. All of these provisions – supported by members of the outdoor industry and conservation community – will positively impact a wide range of organizations that deliver facilitated recreation experiences, including for-profit and non-profit outfitters and guides, university recreation programs and volunteer-based clubs. 

“Whether you are biking or kayaking, fishing, hunting, ATVing or riding, guides and outfitters play a key role in how Americans access the outdoors,” said Jessica Wahl, Executive Director of the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable. The antiquated process that these businesses, nonprofits, and education institutions have to go through to get people outside needs to be reformed so outdoor recreation can continue to be a healthy, safe and sustainable use of our public land and waters and economic driver contributing 2.2% of our nation’s GDP as well as jobs in communities across the country.”  

“America Outdoors represents outdoor adventure businesses that provide access, equipment, and skills that allow Americans to reach and experience public lands they would not otherwise be able to visit,” said Julie Kahlfeldt, Executive Director of America Outdoors. “SOAR is written to make common sense changes to the permitting processes and provides greater access to public lands in a way that increases economic benefits and continues environmental protections. SOAR simplifies permitting to allow outfitters across the United States to work with federal agencies, and more importantly, to get the American public outside to enjoy the wonders of nature. This legislation has been needed for many years and we are grateful to Senator Heinrich, Senator Capito and all the other Senate support for realizing the incredible economic and quality of life impacts the outdoor recreation sector offers to the American public.”

“This legislation provides great opportunity for modernizing and simplifying bureaucratic processes that can greatly complicate an outfitter’s ability to guide hunters and other recreational users on our public lands,” said Dan Forster, Vice President & Chief Conservation Officer, Archery Trade Association.