SOAR Act Summary


Simplifying Outdoor Access for Recreation (SOAR) Act

Improving the permitting process for outfitters, guides and other outdoor leaders on public lands

The permitting authority for outfitting and guiding permits, which is currently included in the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA), is sunsetting every year with little prospect for long-term reauthorization.  SOAR breaks out the permitting authority and renews it as an amendment to FLREA and makes important changes to simplify and improve permitting processes to enable more access for outfitters and organized groups.  New permitted uses of public lands are rarely authorized because permitting processes have become unnecessarily complex and costly in some agencies.  Land managing agencies are not even authorized to work together to issue one permit for a trip that crosses multiple agency boundaries.  SOAR is written to make common sense changes to the permitting processes and regulations to enable more access to public lands in a way that increases economic benefits of public lands while continuing environmental protections.

Bill Highlights:

  • 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.



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

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Adventure WV

Alaska Guide Collective

American Alpine Institute

American Hiking Society

America Outdoors Association

American Alpine Club

American Fly Fishing Trade Association

American Mountain Guides Association

American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE)

Angler's Covey

Appalachian Mountain Guides

Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education (AORE)

Association for Experiential Education

Avid4 Adventure

Chicks Climbing and Skiing

Colorado Mountain School

Colorado River Outfitters Association

Exum Mountain Guides

Grand Canyon River Outfitters Association

Dude Ranchers Association

Idaho Outfitters and Guides Association

Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce

Los Alamos Mountaineers


Middle Fork Outfitters Association

Montana Alpine Guides

Montana Outfitters and Guides Association

Montana Wilderness School

Mountain Skills Rock Guides

Nantahala Outdoor Center

National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS)

New Mexico Council of Guides and Outfitters

New River Mountain Guides

New Mexico Wild

Oregon Outfitters and Guides Association

Outdoor Alliance

Outdoor Industry Association (OIA)

Outdoor Recreation Roundtable

Outdoor Research


Rising Tide Associates

Santa Fe Climbing Center

Seneca Rocks Climbing School

Sierra Mountain Center

Siskiyou Outdoor Recreation Alliance

Suntoucher Mountain Guides

Transforming Youth Outdoors

The Mountaineers

Utah Guides and Outfitters Association

West Virginia Professional River Outfitters

Western Spirit Cycling

Wilderness Society

Wyoming Outfitters and Guides Association

YMCA of Los Angeles

YMCA of the USA

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