Rep. Susie Lee scores win as bill expanding access to public lands passes US House

FILE - This May 6, 2006 file photo shows two cyclists riding along the 13-mile-long scenic drive at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area in Nevada. These towering red sandstone cliffs, some reaching 3,000 feet, is just 15 miles west of metropolitan Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, file)

By Casey Harrison

April 10, 2024

Provisions seeking to ID long distance bike routes and to allow the use of rock climbing anchors on public lands are in the bill aiming to boost outdoor recreation.

Nevadans who enjoy experiencing their state’s natural outdoors beauty may soon have more opportunities to do so.

A pair of bipartisan bills from Nevada Democratic US Rep. Susie Lee aimed at expanding recreational biking and climbing opportunities on federal public lands in Nevada and across the country passed as part of larger legislation that cleared the House of Representatives, her office announced Wednesday.

The legislation, known as the Expanding Public Lands Outdoor Recreation Experiences (EXPLORE) Act passed in a voice vote Tuesday after lawmakers agreed to suspend House rules in order to pass the bill. The bill now moves to the Senate for further consideration, where its future is uncertain.

“Nevada is not only the entertainment capital of the world, but it’s also home to some of the world’s most incredible public lands,” Lee, whose district includes the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, said in a statement. “With the passage of my bipartisan legislation, we’re expanding access to hiking, biking, and climbing opportunities for every family, child, and senior in southern Nevada.”

MORE: Rep. Susie Lee announces road safety funding for better-lit streets

Lee’s bills, dubbed the Biking on Long-Distance Trails (BOLT) Act, as well as Protecting America’s Rock Climbing (PARC) Act, previously passed unanimously out of the Republican-controlled House Natural Resources Committee. The so-called BOLT Act seeks to identify potential long distance bike trails and expand mapping resources for long-distance cyclists, while the PARC Act defines climbing as an allowable activity in areas designated as federal wilderness areas.

The latter provision would also prevent land management agencies (i.e. the US Bureau of Land Management) from prohibiting the use of fixed anchors as illegal installations. Those anchors are equipment used by climbers in scaling rock walls and other climbing surfaces.

“I’m proud to be leading this huge step toward boosting access to outdoor recreation for all – the Senate should follow suit and pass this commensense bipartisan legislation,” Lee added in her statement.

According to a separate statement published Tuesday by the House Natural Resources Committee, other parts of the EXPLORE Act seek to:

  • Improve access to public lands and waters for outdoor recreation
  • Bolster broadband connectivity and other technology modernization initiatives to improve visitor experiences.
  • Streamline permitting processes for small businesses that depend on public lands.
  • Restore campgrounds on federal lands and modernize infrastructure.
  • Improve accessibility for members of the military, veterans, disabled people and children.

“Access to America’s beautiful public lands and waters is part of what makes our country the greatest nation on earth,” committee chair Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Arkansas), said in the statement. “These incredible resources should be shared by all Americans, and expanding access and recreation opportunities in this kind of bipartisan work that we’re here in Congress to do.”

  • Casey Harrison

    Casey Harrison is political correspondent for The Nevadan. Previously, he covered politics and the Oakland Athletics' relocation to Southern Nevada for the Las Vegas Sun, and before that, was a digital producer at The Detroit News. Casey graduated from Michigan State University in 2019.



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