House Passes EXPLORE Act Covering Shooting Ranges and More

April 10, 2024

Connor Merritt

Connor Merritt

In a victory for outdoor enthusiasts nationwide, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 6492, known as the Expanding Public Lands Outdoor Recreation Experiences (EXPLORE Act), yesterday evening. The legislation garnered widespread bipartisan support and marks a significant milestone in bolstering outdoor recreation opportunities, including hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting ranges.

Led by Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Co-Chair and Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, Rep. Bruce Westerman, along with nearly two dozen other Representatives, the EXPLORE Act received enthusiastic backing from the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF). The bill is a crucial step towards enhancing public access to federal lands for recreational activities.

Additional Shooting Ranges and Invasive Species Control

shooting ranges

The EXPLORE Act includes an initiative championed by CSF to expand recreational shooting ranges and opportunities; specifically, the legislation mandates the establishment of at least one free and public target shooting range in each district overseen by the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. This measure not only promotes outdoor enjoyment but also contributes to wildlife conservation efforts through the Pittman-Robertson Act. The act currently earns roughly 80% of its funding through taxes paid by recreational shooters.

Furthermore, the EXPLORE Act addresses the issue of aquatic invasive species. It provides federal agencies with the tools to prevent their spread and safeguard native ecosystems. With this act, they’ll be able to prevent harmful introductions of invasive species more easily, thanks to their authority to inspect and decontaminate vessels entering or leaving Federal waters. Don’t worry though: it doesn’t prohibit boating access in the absence of an inspection station.

Visitation Data Tracking and Small-scale Filming Permits

Another part of the act includes improving land planning decisions. Certain federal land management agencies will start capturing new recreation visitation data, helping allowing them to make more informed decisions about the land and helping sportsmen plan trips more effectively.

shooting ranges

Additionally, the legislation streamlines permitting processes for small film crews conducting activities on federal lands, facilitating easier access for outdoor production companies and individuals alike. Small crews were unfortunately treated the same way as a major Hollywood production, making it difficult (if not impossible) for small crews and individuals to get the film and photography permits required to share their recreational experiences.

Expressing gratitude for the bipartisan cooperation that propelled the bill through the House, CSF commended Rep. Westerman and his fellow cosponsors for their unwavering commitment to sportsmen and women. With the legislation now advancing to the Senate, CSF looks forward to collaborating with Senators Joe Manchin and John Barrasso to see these vital provisions enshrined into law.

The passage of the EXPLORE Act in the House represents a victory for outdoor enthusiasts across the country, promising expanded access to public lands, increased conservation efforts, and more.

Read the full press release here.

Also read about the Hunting Heritage and Education Act on iSportsmanUSA.
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