AO Legislative and Regulatory Updates June 2019

Updated June 12th, 2019


S 1665 Simplifying Outdoor Access for Recreation Act: With the new Congress having finally settled in, the America Outdoors (AO) legislative team has been busy working on permit streamlining legislation with a coalition of other interest groups.  The result is the SOAR Act (Simplifying Outdoor Access for Recreation) S1665. SOAR was introduced on 5.23 by Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV) with 10 other original sponsors (see below).

SOAR is a collaborative bill in many ways. The bill is bipartisan and the effort behind it is too.  For outfitters who know the basics of AO’s Government Affairs: SOAR is the marriage of the Guide and Outfitters (GO) Act  and Public Land Recreation Improvement Opportunity Act (PLRIOA) from the last session. All the GO Act provisions, which passed the House of Representatives in the last session, are in bill except for the statutory categorical exclusion (Cat Exs). 

The concept: Take two associations, work together and write a bill that covers many groups’ interests; SOAR is the result. We are very thankful for Senator Heinrich and Senator Capito for helping us get so much early support for SOAR. Also, a huge thank you to AO members and other organizations who helped along the way. Let’s hope the collaborative spirit is contagious in congress.  


The legislation has been referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources for consideration.

Legislative Hearing Date: TBD. We will inform America Outdoors members as soon as a hearing date is determined.


What SOAR is all about:

Main sections of SOAR:

Section 3. Special Recreation Permit and Fee

Section 4. Permitting Process Improvements

Section 5. Permit Flexibility

Section 6. Permit Administration

Section 7. Permit for Multijurisdictional Trips

Section 8. Forest Service Permit Use Reviews

Section 9. Liability

Section 10. Cost Recovery

Section 11. Extension of Special Recreation Permits


How SOAR benefits the future of outdoor recreation:

  • reauthorizes outfitter and guide permitting authority for the Forest Service, the BLM, and brings the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Reclamation under FLREA so those agencies can keep permit fees;
  • authorizes agencies to issue one permit when a trip crosses multiple agency boundary, an authorization that includes NPS Commercial Use Authorizations and other agency permits;
  • reauthorizes permit fees and allows use for permit administration and simplifying processes as well as for previously authorized purposes;
  • eliminates fees based on goods and services delivered and consumed off federal lands and authorizes a flat, per person fee to simply permit calculations;
  • authorizes temporary permits to help facilitate access for new uses and provides for conversion to long term permits when appropriate (does not require conversion);
  • sets important deadlines for simplifying and revising permitting processes and regulations, a goal the Forest Service adopted internally but has never been able to deliver on;
  • provides more flexibility for use of permitted capacity by qualified service providers;
  • reforms cost recovery in the Forest Service and the BLM by giving a 50-hour credit for each permit when a group of permits is renewed and provides exceptions to the cost recovery requirement, a practice that the agencies have adopted although it is not authorized in their regulations;
  • prohibits the use of waivers for gross negligence, requires indemnification of agencies by permit holders and allows waivers for ordinary negligence.



Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) Senator Shelly Moore- Capito (R-WV)

Senate Co-Sponsors: Please say 'thank you' if you see your Senator on this list!

Sen Angus King (I-Maine)

Sen Mike Rounds (R-S.D.)

Sen James Risch (R-Idaho)

Sen Michael Bennet (D-Colo.)

Sen Cory Gardner (R-Colo.)

Sen Martha McSally (R-Ariz.)

Sen Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.)

Sen Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)

Sen Jon Tester (D-Mont.)

Sen Steve Daines (R-Mont.)

We are optimistic about SOAR’s trajectory and will be reaching out to AO members for our efforts as we zero in on key states. The bill is bi partisan and that is important for the group’s overall strategy. 


SOAR legislation will positively impact many AO members. Support AO’s legislative advocacy efforts to make an investment in the future of our industry.

Donate now.


Upcoming Webinar on USFS NEPA Regulations & EADM streamlining

We just got a notice that the United States Forest Service is reviewing the Environmental Analysis Decision Making (EADM) processes with an eye for streamlining. We are hopeful this will reduce overall costs related to environmental analysis. This was published today, and AO will be reviewing further to make comments within the 60-day time frame.  Please follow the links below to sign up for the webinars they are hosting:

Webinar #1

Date: June 25, 2019 Time: 3:30-5:00pm (EDT)

Audio: 1-877-369-5243 or 1-617-668-3633

Access Code: 0524699##

Adobe Connect URL:


Webinar #2

Date: July 12, 2019 Time: 3:30-5:00pm (EDT)

Audio: 1-877-369-5243 or 1-617-668-3633

Access Code: 0849770##

Adobe Connect URL:


Note: The same information will be shared on both webinars.


Proposed NEPA regulations have been posted to the Federal Register Reading Room. Learn more. 

*Click on “download the unpublished” PDF too get the 66-page document.

Additional information.



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