April 21, 2021

Cortez Masto Introduces Legislation to Help Expand Access to Nevada Public Lands

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) introduced two pieces of legislation to help underrepresented communities, educational organizations, and community groups access and enjoy Nevada’s public lands for outdoor recreation.

“Every Nevadan should have access to our beautiful public lands – it’s part of what makes the Silver State so special,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “Yet the cumbersome permitting process often prevents small organizations, schools, and minority-serving recreation businesses and non-profits from enjoying them. My legislation aims to cut red tape and make the permitting process easier, less expensive, and more accessible to a more diverse group of guides, organizations, and outfitters so they can participate in our outdoor recreation economy and enjoy all Nevada’s public lands have to offer.”  

“Outfitters, guides and other outdoor leaders provide people with great recreation experiences on America’s public lands,” said Paul Sanford, National Director of Recreation Policy for The Wilderness Society. “This legislation will help us ensure these experiences are available to everyone, including Tribal and Indigenous communities, low-income families, and people of color. We thank Senator Cortez Masto for her leadership in introducing this legislation, and for moving us one step closer to the day when everyone feels welcomed and included in the outdoor experience.”

Cortez Masto’s Environmental Justice in Recreation Permitting Act would study the barriers that minority-owned businesses face when accessing our public lands recreation permitting system, and how to best improve the current permitting process to better facilitate access for recreational service providers serving diverse communities, including underserved and low-income individuals. This legislation is supported by the American Alpine Institute, the American Canoe Association, the American Hiking Society, the Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education, Conservation Lands Foundation, Earthjustice, Earthworks Action, Green Latinos, The Mountaineers, Outdoor Outreach, REI, Seattle Parks Foundation, Sierra Club, the Grand Canyon Trust, and The Wilderness Society.

Cortez Masto is also cosponsoring the Simplifying Outdoor Access for Recreation Act, or SOAR Act, introduced by Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M), to improve permitting systems for outdoor recreation businesses by simplifying processes, increasing flexibility in allowed activities, reducing unnecessary costs and more. The SOAR Act is supported by a wide range of organizations, including the Wilderness Society, American Mountain Guides Association, The Mountaineers, Outdoor Recreation Roundtable, and the Outdoor Industry Association. 

All of these provisions – supported by members of the outdoor industry and conservation community – will positively impact a wide range of organizations that deliver recreation experiences and drive Nevada’s outdoor economy, including for-profit and non-profit outfitters and guides, university recreation programs, and volunteer-based clubs.

You can view the Environmental Justice in Recreation Permitting Act bill text HERE and the SOAR Act bill text HERE.