Owens Co-Sponsors the Gateway Community and Recreation Enhancement Act
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Burgess Owens (UT-04) co-sponsored the Gateway Community and Recreation Enhancement Act, an effort to address the growing problem of park overcrowding and boost awareness of lesser-visited recreation areas. The bipartisan bill would create a pilot program to inform potential park visitors in real-time of crowd levels at National Parks or other federal lands as they travel, and provide suggestions for alternative recreation destinations. The legislation comes after months of feedback from top National Parks Service (NPS) officials and conservation experts on the issues of overcrowding as many parks see a spike in visitors.
“Utah is home to five breathtakingly beautiful national parks, and these natural wonders support the local economy, provide recreational opportunities for families, and attract tourists from across the globe,” said Rep. Owens. “I am proud to support the Gateway Community and Recreation Enhancement Act to ensure unfettered access to recreational destinations for Utahns, and community-based solutions to infrastructure challenges and housing shortages in gateway communities.”
The Gateway Community and Recreation Enhancement Act would task the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of the Interior (DOI) with creating a pilot program within 2 years where the agencies would provide real-time data on visitation to 20 Federal land management units (15 under DOI jurisdiction, 5 under USDA jurisdiction) and encourage visitation to lesser known adjacent recreation sites in coordination with communities surrounding public lands (gateway communities) along with state and local outdoor recreation entities. Within 5 years, the pilot program would be expanded to 80 additional Federal land management units. The bill would instruct USDA and DOI Secretaries to collaborate with stakeholders in each community to better understand their economic and local needs.
The full text of the legislation is available here.