December 4, 2023

House CSC Co-Chair Introduces Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Package

Article Contact: Taylor Schmitz,

Why it matters: Our nation’s vast network of federal public lands and water provide significant recreational opportunities for America’s sportsmen and women. The EXPLORE Act recognizes the importance of federal public lands for sportsmen and women by seeking to increase public access, modernize public land visitation data, and conserve important water systems for anglers and boaters.


  • On November 29, Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Co-Chair and House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rep. Bruce Westerman introduced the bipartisan Expanding Public Lands Outdoor Recreation Experiences (EXPLORE) Act (R. 6492).
  • A day later, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands held a legislative hearing on the EXPLORE Act.
  • This legislation, which will bolster access for sportsmen and women and other users of public lands and waters, is strongly supported by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF).

Last week, CSC Co-Chair and Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, Rep. Bruce Westerman, introduced the strongly bipartisan EXPLORE Act. The day after introduction, the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands held a hearing on this important legislation.

While the EXPLORE Act contains many provisions of importance to sportsmen and women, CSF is particularly excited to see language that closely mirrors the Range Access Act (H.R. 1614). Specifically, this language will require the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to have a minimum of one free and public target shooting range in each of the respective districts. By providing dedicated, established target ranges, this legislation will improve opportunities to recycle spent ammunition and mitigate waste and pollution at non-designated ranges on USFS and BLM lands.

The EXPLORE Act will also provide assistance to federal agencies to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species, which pose a serious threat to native aquatic ecosystems and the economy. Once established, aquatic invasive species are difficult, if not impossible, to eradicate, and significant resources must be invested annually on population management. Preventing harmful introductions before they occur is the most effective means to avoid the risk aquatic nuisance species present. For example, Zebra mussels alone cause $300–$500 million in damages annually to power plants, water systems, and industrial water intakes in the Great Lakes Region.

Furthermore, this legislation includes language that will help improve future federal land agency planning decisions and would enhance user planning efforts for the general public. Specifically, the Improved Recreation Visitation Data section directs certain federal land management agencies to capture various recreation visitation data. This section also establishes a real-time data pilot program to make available to the public real-time or predictive visitation data for federal lands, helping sportsmen and women with their trip planning efforts.

CSF thanks CSC Co-Chair and Chairman Westerman for leading the EXPLORE Act and looks forward to working him to see this legislation signed into law.

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