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Today (Jun 27, 2017), the House Committee on Natural Resources passed H.R. 289, the “Guides and Outfitters Act” or “Go Act.” Introduced by Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), the bill aims to increase public access to recreation activities on federal lands by streamlining the federal permitting process.

Summary of the Bill H.R. 289

Bill H.R. 289, introduced by Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R-CA-1), amends the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA) to reauthorize permitting authorities which are currently expiring annually and to streamline the recreation permitting process and allow for increased public access to recreation opportunities on federal lands. Among other provisions, the bill: 1) authorizes joint permits for trips crossing multiple agency boundaries; 2) sets permit fees; 3) prevents federal agencies from imposing fees on services delivered outside of federal lands; 4) authorizes temporary permits for new uses; 5) allows for the extension of existing permits to prevent interruption of services to the public; 6) authorizes the agencies to streamline permitting processes where appropriate; 7) provides categorical exclusions for previously studied uses to eliminate duplicative studies that delay permits; and 8) directs the use of permit fees.

“For too long, prohibitive costs have been the consequence of duplicative environmental reviews and arbitrary rules, rendering it unnecessarily difficult for small businesses to provide recreational access to federal lands,” Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) said.“The ‘GO Act’ will be a boon to the guides and outfitters who make their living by facilitating greater public enjoyment from and access to our federal lands.”       

“Reviving the rural economy and encouraging recreation on our federal lands go hand in hand. Too often, the public is delayed or denied reasonable use of public lands by slow moving bureaucracy that place unnecessary red tape that increases costs and overcomplicates what should be a fairly straightforward process,” Rep. LaMalfa said.“The federal government owns over forty-five percent of the land in California and over half of all the land in the Western United States. My bill will help guides and outfitters in rural areas to create more recreation opportunities for Americans and increase the public’s access to public lands. I’m glad to see it move forward through the committee process and I look forward to a vote on the House floor soon.”

Background:

H.R. 289 grants the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture broader authority to issue special recreation permits, eases the financial burden on small businesses seeking such permits and eliminates duplicative environmental reviews.

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