When We Say Parks, You Say Trails
The BOLT Act (Biking on Long-Distance Trails Act) was reintroduced in the Senate and House of Representatives on March 3, 2023, and is once again seeing swift and promising legislative momentum.
On March 28, IMBA had the honor of testifying before the House Subcommittee on Federal Lands regarding the BOLT Act. The bill was heard alongside several more recreation bills Outdoor Alliance partners have helped craft. These bills in the House are expected to be compiled into a recreation package similar to America’s Outdoor Recreation Act, which has already been reintroduced in the Senate and includes the BOLT Act.
On April 28, the BOLT Act passed the bipartisan committee unanimously and is now primed for a vote on the House floor.
Todd Keller, IMBA’s Director of Government Affairs, provided expert testimony on the BOLT Act. Expert testimony is an opportunity to share more information on the bill and its benefits, and allows members of the committee to ask direct questions. Many, many bills get introduced in Congress—when a bill is called for a committee hearing and committee vote, it signifies additional interest and gives added visibility to the bill as it continues through the legislative process.
“It was an absolute honor to not only represent IMBA but also the mountain bike community in expressing support for the BOLT Act. It’s our collective dedication to trails and mountain biking that has led us to opportunities like this. Combine this with the support from Chairman Westerman from Arkansas, Representative Curtis from Utah, Representative Neguse from Colorado, and Representative Susie Lee from Nevada, and our voice is getting stronger and stronger," said Keller.
IMBA’s testimony explained how the BOLT Act will highlight backcountry trail experiences while investing in local trail access for rural communities. An expert from the testimony:
The Biking on Long-Distance Trails (BOLT) Act is a top legislative priority for our community as it continues the investment in outdoor recreation by recognizing the importance of long distance trails to create iconic backcountry discovery while supporting small rural communities.
IMBA has developed the BOLT Act from concept beginning in 2018. It was first introduced in Congress in 2021. In 2022 the BOLT Act passed the House floor and passed the Senate committee on Energy and Natural Resources. IMBA is eager to see the bill having the same momentum this congressional session, and will continue to mobilize mountain bikers to help the BOLT Act go the distance to be signed into law.
The BOLT Act will direct federal land management agencies under the jurisdiction of the Department of the Interior and the United States Forest Service to identify existing and potential long-distance biking trails. By creating a catalog of existing long-distance trails and opportunities for more long-distance trails, agencies will be able to better coordinate with stakeholders like local community leaders, IMBA Local Partners, and trails and recreation professionals to support trail development, trail maintenance and trail promotion.
The Ouachita National Recreation Trail in Arkansas, High Country Pathway in Michigan, Maah Daah Hey in North Dakota, the Great Divide Mountain Bike Trail running from the Canada to Mexico border, and, when completed, the Bonneville Shoreline Trail in Utah are all mountain bike trails that could benefit from the BOLT Act. Communities near these trails will benefit from better trail connectivity and increased visitation.
The full March 28 House Committee hearing is below. IMBA’s testimony begins at 1:57.