U.S. SENATE – U.S. Senators Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Angus King (I-Maine), top Republican and Chairman of the Senate National Parks Subcommittee, cheered Committee passage of their bipartisan bill the “Gateway Community and Recreation Enhancement Act” which supports gateway communities and addresses challenges facing national parks and public lands. Their bill passed as part of the “Outdoor Recreation Act” and will now proceed to the full Senate.
“Our national parks and public lands help set us apart from the rest of the world, and in Montana, they’re part of our way of life. Just as we take care of our outdoors, we must take care of the gateway communities surrounding them. I’m glad to see my bipartisan bill to support Montana’s gateway communities pass out of Committee with bipartisan support. I’ll keep working to get this bill across the finish line and signed into law,” Daines said.
“Across our country, public lands provide Americans the opportunity to connect with incredible natural beauty and make memories that last a lifetime,” King said. “As parks from Maine to Montana experience record levels of visitation, Congress has a responsibility to help more people experience these treasures while preventing a crush of well-meaning outdoor enthusiasts from loving our lands to death. The Gateway Community and Recreation Enhancement Act is a critical step in this effort, creating a ‘Waze for Parks’ that would share data in real time so potential visitors can enjoy our nation’s natural beauty while avoiding crowds. I’m grateful that the Energy and Natural Resources Committee overwhelmingly saw the importance of the bipartisan bill, and hopeful that Congress can swiftly pass this legislation to support our national parks and the communities that rely on them.”
During National Park Week, Daines shared a video featuring Terese Petcoff, Executive Director of the Gardiner Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center, as she discusses the challenges facing our national parks and gateway communities.
Daines and King’s bipartisan bill does the following:
- Establishes a Visitation Pilot Program at the Department of the Interior and Forest Service to address increased visitation by:
- Working with communities, states, tribes, non-profits and stakeholders
- Making visitation and crowd level data readily available for visitors
- Provide suggestions for alternative, lesser-known national parks and federal, state and local recreation sites
- Requires the Department of the Interior and the Forest Service to coordinate with gateway communities to identify and address community needs such as:
- Housing shortages
- Demands on existing municipal infrastructure,
- Accommodation and management of sustainable visitation
Daines’ bipartisan bill the, “SOAR Act,” which streamlines the process for issuing special recreation permits for accessing public lands also passed the Committee today.