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America's Outdoor Recreation Act Gains Momentum in Congress

America's Outdoor Recreation Act Gains Momentum in Congress

Mountain Biking’s BOLT Act, Bonneville Shoreline Trail Advancement Act, both pass Senate Committee

Photo courtesy of: Evan Green

May 4, 2021 
Media contact: Eleanor Blick
IMBA Director of Communications
(720) 900-4622

A long-awaited recreation package has finally taken shape in the 117th Congress, with America’s Outdoor Recreation Act passing the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on May 3, 2022. The Act includes the Biking on Long-Distance Trails Act (BOLT), the Simplifying Access to Outdoor Recreation Act (SOAR), and several strong components of the Recreation not Red Tape Act (RNR). The Committee also passed one of IMBA's priority land protection bills, the Bonneville Shoreline Trail Advancement Act (BSTAA). 

“This was a monumental day for mountain biking in Washington D.C. Both the BOLT Act and Bonneville Shoreline Trail Advancement Act are legislation led by mountain bikers, for mountain bikers. These bills create more trail opportunities, more trail connectivity, and more trails close to home," said David Wiens, IMBA Executive Director. 

IMBA worked closely with Representative John Curtis (R-UT), Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT), Trails Utah, Salt Lake Valley Trails Society and the Bonneville Shoreline Trail Committee to introduce BSTAA in July 2020 and again in March 2021. The BSTAA furthers the long-distance dream for Utah’s famed Bonneville Shoreline Trail, while increasing opportunities for more trails close to home in the growing Salt Lake Valley. The process used to create more trail connectivity by resolving land management boundary issues can be a model for communities with similar challenges. The BSTAA has now passed both the House Natural Resources Committee and Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee with unanimous, bipartisan support, and awaits a floor vote in both chambers. 

The BOLT Act was introduced in November 2021 after years of close work between IMBA and the Department of the Interior, and more recently with Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), and Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND). The legislation will identify at least 10 existing long-distance bike trails and identify at least 10 areas where there is opportunity to develop or complete such trails. It will create more long rides and more trails close to home by increasing connectivity between existing trail systems. Since the bill's introduction, IMBA has worked closely with Bikepacking Roots, PeopleforBikes and Adventure Cycling Association to advocate for the fast-moving BOLT Act, which now advances to the Senate floor. 

The America’s Outdoor Recreation Act includes additional bills IMBA has supported alongside Outdoor Alliance, including the SOAR Act which would streamline the recreation permitting process for guides and outfitters, and Wild Olympics, which protects world-class recreation in Washington state. The Act also includes several strong components of the bipartisan Recreation not Red Tape Act, such as directing federal agencies to promote greater volunteerism; increasing recreation opportunities and seeking to extend seasonal recreation activities on federal lands; increasing youth recreation visits on federal lands; and increasing outdoor recreation opportunities for service members and veterans. IMBA and Outdoor Alliance have worked closely with RNR’s sponsors since its inception.

“Momentum for trails and for mountain biking in Congress is climbing,” said Todd Keller, IMBA Director of Government Affairs. “While these bills have made tremendous progress, we are not at the finish line yet. IMBA and our partners will continue working to pass America’s Outdoor Recreation Act, and continue engaging mountain bike advocates to join us.” 

About IMBA:
The International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) creates, enhances, and protects great places to ride mountain bikes. It is focused on creating more trails close to home to grow the quantity and quality of mountain bike trail communities across the U.S., so everyone has access to close-to-home rides and iconic backcountry experiences. Since 1988, IMBA has been the worldwide leader in mountain bike advocacy and the only organization focused entirely on trails and access for all types of mountain bikers in all parts of the U.S. IMBA teaches and encourages low-impact riding, grassroots advocacy, sustainable trail design, innovative land management practices, and cooperation among trail user groups. IMBA U.S. is a national network of local groups, individual riders, and passionate volunteers working together for the benefit of the entire community.

Eleanor in desert setting

Eleanor (she/her) wants everyone to have a safe and welcoming space to ride bikes. While working in journalism and nonprofits in the Midwest, Eleanor led volunteer efforts with Big Marsh Bike Park, co-founded the Chicago Women’s CX Fund, and worked with city youth programs to get more kids on…

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