Outdoor Recreation and Public Lands News for 11/22/2016

Congress hears Central Wasatch National Conservation and Recreation Area Act of 2016 

Last week a bill was introduced to Congress that would create the Central Wasatch National Conservation and Recreation Area.  Carl Fisher, Executive Director of Save Our Canyons, travelled to Washington DC to speak on behalf of the bill, which is a collaborative product of the Mountain Accord.

Among other things, the bill proposes to:

  • Include about 80,000 acres of public land—high ridgelines, meadows, cirques, and snowy bowls—in a new Conservation and Recreation Area, which is a new designation.
  • Add about 8,000-acres of wilderness in the central Wasatch, including making the new Grandeur Peak Wilderness Area, which would nearly border Salt Lake City.
  • Fix the boundaries of the ski resorts that operate on public land at their current size and not permit future expansion on public lands.

To read more about the bill, follow this link to Outside Magazine.

National Parks Service Director’s Order #100 will make it easier for Parks to ban climbing

Outgoing NPS Director Jarvis is poised to issue Director’s Order #100, a directive that would allow National Parks to enact a risk management strategy called the Precautionary Principle.  If If institutionalized, this Precautionary Principle would allow land managers to prohibit or restrict appropriate uses if “an activity raises plausible or probable threats of harm to park resources.”

The Precautionary Principle requires that, when an activity raises plausible or probable threats of harm to park resources and/or human health, management should take anticipatory action even when there is uncertainty. When such uncertainty exists, NPS managers will take actions that err on the side of caution to protect natural and cultural resources.

Which doesn’t sound terrible, right?  But what it does, effectively, is give park managers the ability to make rules without public process.  To read more about the precautionary principle and Director’s Order #100, refer to the following link from the Access Fund.

Sources: Access Fund, Director’s Order #100

Outdoor REC bill passes the U.S. House of Representatives

Great news from Congress.  As we reported earlier this year, the Outdoor REC Act was submitted to Congress.  If passed, the act would require the Federal Government to track the outdoor recreation economy as a sector, similar to automotive and pharmaceutical.

Just recently, the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday passed the Outdoor REC Act, legislation that directs the Secretary of Commerce, through the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), to “conduct an assessment and analysis of the outdoor recreation economy of the United States.” Today’s unanimous House vote is an uncommon demonstration of bipartisanship and follows the bill’s successful passage by the Senate Commerce Committee.

The full Senate must now pass the bill and send it to President Obama for his signature and it will become law.

“The overwhelming, bipartisan support in the House shows that Congress understands what we in the outdoor industry have known all along, that the $646 billion outdoor recreation economy and the 6.1 million jobs it supports, is a major economic driver in communities across the United States and should be counted just like any other major industry,” said OIA Executive Director Amy Roberts. “We are grateful to Representatives Beyer, Reichert, McMorris Rodgers and Welch, and to Chairman Upton, and the more than two-dozen cosponsors for supporting the outdoor industry and the recreation economy.”

Sources: Outdoor REC Act; Outdoor Industry of America

Two excellent articles on diversity in the outdoors

First, USA Today published “For People of Color, Hiking Isn’t Always An Escape“.  The article traces the narrative of Jenna Yokoyama, a Japanese-American and avid hiker and her concerns about her safety hiking in rural areas.

Second, Outside Magazine published “To Diversify The Outdoors, We Have To Think About Who We’re Excluding”, which regards Ambreen Tariq and her Instagram account Brown People Camping.  Tariq states “After my first post, things just started growing organically, and the more I shared, the more engagement and support I received. I was immediately getting tons of positive feedback from total strangers, people saying, ‘I’m not an immigrant,’ or ‘I’m not female,’ or ‘I’m white, but I actually identify with this.’ There isn’t a happy ending to every story, like how camping with my family was empowering for me during a time when I was bullied in school. As new immigrants, we had a tough transition, but being outdoors was a reprieve. That’s not an easy story to tell, but it’s true and it’s complicated. I think my readers appreciate that and respond with their own complicated experiences.”

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