House passes huge outdoor recreation bill

Apr 11, 2024

The House on Tuesday approved the EXPLORE Act, a bipartisan bill that increases access to public lands and boosts the nation’s outdoor economy. Among its sweeping set of provisions, the bill would make it easier to get permits for activities on public lands, develop more biking trails, and codify the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership Program, a fund that provides outdoor opportunities in urban and low-income communities.

Introduced by Natural Resources Chair Bruce Westerman of Arkansas and co-sponsored by Ranking Member Raúl Grijalva of New Mexico, the legislation enjoys diverse support.

Supporting the EXPLORE Act should be an easy decision for Western representatives who prioritize their voters’ interests70 percent of voters in the West want their representatives to place more emphasis on protecting clean water, air quality, and wildlife habitats while providing opportunities to visit and recreate on public lands.

“Public support for public lands and access to outdoor recreation continues to grow each year, and the EXPLORE Act will help advance the idea that the outdoors really are for everyone,” said New Mexico Representative Teresa Leger Fernández.

Correcting The Heritage Foundation’s (many) falsities

In March, the conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation ran an op-ed in the Washington Times and on its website arguing that the Supreme Court should review the Antiquities Act, a century-old law that has allowed presidents to protect some of America’s most iconic natural areas and historic treasures, from the Grand Canyon to the Statue of Liberty. In less than 700 words, Heritage lined the article with false statements and dishonest arguments.

On Wednesday, the Center for Western Priorities released a blog post that includes the full article with annotations added to correct the numerous misleading and downright false assertions made by Heritage.

It’s especially important to note the abundance of false statements in this short article because Heritage is promoting a much larger product, Project 2025, which is a 900-page book that provides policy and personnel recommendations for a potential new anti-conservation administration come 2025. Given the chance, Heritage will use misguided principles to undermine public land management across the country.

Quick hits

In a first, EPA sets limit for ‘forever chemicals’ in drinking water

Associated Press | New York Times | Washington Post | Axios | Arizona Republic

Analysis: Mapping America’s access to nature, neighborhood by neighborhood

Washington Post

Redline: Everything The Heritage Foundation gets wrong about national monuments and the Antiquities Act


Activists protest in trees, file lawsuit to block old growth logging on BLM land

Oregon Capital Chronicle | E&E News

BLM takes final steps to curb methane pollution in oil patch

E&E News

Water pouring out of rural Utah dam through 60-foot crack, putting nearby town at risk

Associated Press

Epic dinosaur trackway in Colorado is now officially public land

Denver Post

Wupatki at 100 years: A look back at the history of the national monument near Flagstaff

Arizona Daily Sun

Quote of the day

We are one huge step closer to finally shutting off the tap on forever chemicals once and for all.”

—Michael S. Regan, EPA administrator, New York Times

Picture This

A dark sky shows the milky way galaxy above distant mountains

It’s International Dark Sky Week!

Did you know that Grand Canyon National Park is an International Dark Sky Park?

To learn more about how GCC is supporting Dark Skies at Grand Canyon National Park visit the link in GCC’s bio.



(Featured image: Gunnison Recreational River, Colorado. Bureau of Land Management, Flickr)