April 2024

(Photo credit: Tsao District Cooper)

Chairman Bruce Westerman Touts the EXPLORE Act at MIC Fly-In

Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-4th-Ark.), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, addressed CEOs and senior-level representatives from Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and major powersports companies at the Motorcycle Industry Council’s (MIC) 2024 Fly-In. Rep. Westerman, an avid outdoorsman, proudly announced the recent passage of H.R. 6492, the “Expanding Public Lands Outdoor Recreation Experiences Act.” The EXPLORE Act, which he sponsored, garnered an impressive 51 bipartisan cosponsors and more than 100 supporting organizations, a clear testament to its broad support and potential impact.

This legislation improves access and expands outdoor recreation opportunities on America’s public lands and waters. Among other things, the legislation modernizes technology for park visitors, streamlines permitting processes, and lowers fees on small businesses.

“Specifically, the EXPLORE Act requires agencies to update travel management maps so that folks know exactly what areas are open to motorized and non-motorized recreation,” said Westerman. “The bill also expands motorized recreation opportunities for folks with disabilities, including our wounded warriors. Off-highway vehicles, like ATVs, are critical tools that can help people with limited mobility hunt, fish, and explore our great outdoors.”

The EXPLORE Act is designed to benefit various groups and sectors. It will help reduce overcrowding on public lands, support gateway communities, improve accessibility for those with disabilities, and create economic opportunities for the outdoor recreation industry. Importantly, it includes provisions directing federal agencies to expand motorized access to public lands wherever appropriate, ensuring a balanced approach to outdoor recreation.


Landmark Outdoor Recreation Legislation Passes in the House of Representatives

On April 9, the EXPLORE Act passed in the House under suspension of the rules. This landmark legislation, the first-ever outdoor recreation-specific bill package, achieves this without cost to taxpayers. The bipartisan legislation is not just about outdoor fun, it’s about economic growth. It’s poised to not only stimulate local and national economies but also enhance access for Americans—particularly those in underserved communities—to green spaces and modernize policies to bolster the recreation businesses that bridge people with nature. The bill complements the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s S. 873, America’s Outdoor Recreation Act (AORA).

Before the vote, 30 outdoor recreation trade associations signed a letter of endorsement to Reps. Westerman and Raúl Grijalva. (D -7th, Ariz.), chair and ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee, respectively. The letter was read on the House floor, and the bill now moves to the Senate. Although there are some minor differences between AORA (the Senate version) and the House EXPLORE Act version, the leadership is confident those differences will be resolved and the Senate will hopefully accept the House version and pass it expeditiously.


Off-Road and Snow Organizations Get a Financial Bump Thanks to Polaris

Thanks to a grant of more than $130,000 from Polaris, off-road vehicles, all-terrain vehicles, and snowmobile riding clubs across the United States and Canada received a boost to help their programs promote safe and responsible riding, facilitate trail preservation and protect the environment and natural resources.

“Riding builds a connection between friends and family and the outdoors, and the impact these clubs and organizations make locally through their grassroots efforts and ingenuity is significant,” said Steve Menneto, president of Off Road, Polaris. “Polaris is proud to support their efforts through our bi-annual TRAILS GRANTS program, which has donated more than $3.5 million since its inception.”

Polaris names the following organizations as award recipients. Each recipient will receive up to $10,000.

  1. Adirondack Snowdrifters Snowmobile Club Inc. (Owls Head, N.Y.): Help repair two bridges, which will enable snowmobilers ride safely to communities, parking areas, restaurants, and lodging.


  1. Advocates for Multi-Use of Public Lands (Jackson, Wyo.): Help establish a trail grooming protocol that will decrease potential damage to vehicles and increase rider safety.


  1. Club VTT du Témiscamingue (Lorrainville, Quebec, Canada): Help support the replacement of a bridge along the trail to provide safe travel.


  1. International Association of Snowmobile Administrators (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada): Help support snowmobile rider safety programs.


  1. Kingfield Quad Runners ATV Club (Kingfield, Maine): Help repair trails damaged by recent severe storms to support and maintain a safe riding experience.


  1. Ma & Pa Kettle Days Inc. (Kettle River, Minn.): Help support establishing a watering station for riders to clean invasive species off their vehicles before/after riding to protect the natural environment.


  1. Nevada Outdoor School (Winnemucca, Nev.): Help support the expansion of the organization’s Youth Helmet program, which focuses on educating both parents and children on how to safely operate off-road vehicles.


  1. Rudolph River Rovers (Rudolph, Wis.): Help preserve and maintain the trail, which connects riders to multiple communities.


  1. Lawrence County Snowmobile Association Inc (Canton, N.Y.): Help support gravel and delivery services needed to finish a crucial part of the 126-mile trail.


  1. S. Dept. of Agriculture (Duchesne, Utah): Help provide trail maintenance and updated signage along the Badlands OHV Trail that will enhance rider safety, with support from the government.


  1. Valley Outdoors Club (Bishop, Cali.): Help educate local riders about safe and responsible riding through with their rider safety programs.


  1. Venture Unknown Foundation (Pendleton, S.C.) Help support the annual Sweep up the Southeast event, which focuses on trail clean-up and restoration.


  1. Warfighter Madesm (Temecula, Cali.) Help support the organization’s STEM program, B.O.L.T. (Building Off-Road Leaders of Tomorrow), which teaches children how to maintain, repair, and safely drive off-road vehicles.


  1. Wilderness Wheelers (Bigfork, Minn.) Help support the development of a new 60-mile wilderness trail in the Chippewa National Forest that will provide safe passage for riders while preserving the natural environment.

Since starting the TRAILS GRANTS program in 2006, Polaris has supported more than 405 ATV, off-road, and snowmobiling organizations across the U.S. and Canada with more than $3.5 million in donations. For more information, including how to apply for a fall 2024 TRAILS GRANT, visit https://www.polaris.com/en-us/trails-application/.


Legacy Restoration Fund Projects

As part of an ongoing series, we feature the 37 motorized and non-motorized infrastructure projects totaling $20 million funded through FY23 in the ARRA newsletters. Click here to access projects funded in your state. Below are the projects featured this month:


Trail Stewardship Act Priority Area: Central Idaho Complex Deferred Maintenance ($1,231,617)

Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest, Idaho and Montana

The Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest has about 5,200 miles of trail, of which 5,000 are in the Central Idaho Complex Priority Area, a nationally selected priority area under the Trail Stewardship Act. This multi-year project will reduce deferred trail maintenance across the 4-million-acre forest through clearing and brushing, tread repair, drainage maintenance, and trail bridge replacements. Visitor access and experiences will be improved for motorized and non-motorized trails


Tri-Forest Snowmobile Area Parking Area Repairs ($165,000)

Klamath National Forest, California

This project reduces deferred maintenance at two regional snow park areas managed for over-snow vehicle recreation. Activities include repairing and repaving parking areas at Deer Mountain and Four Corners. These parking areas are part of the Tri-Forest Snowmobile Area, a system of parking areas and trails managed jointly with the Modoc, Shasta-Trinity, and Klamath national forests.


Upgrade Recreation Facilities at Wildomar Off-Highway Vehicle Area ($175,000)

Cleveland National Forest, California

This project will replace the aging bathroom facilities at Wildomar’s off-highway vehicle area. This project will improve the recreational visitor experience.


West Zone Motorized Trail Deferred Maintenance Reduction Project ($75,000)

Custer Gallatin National Forest, Montana

The west side of the Custer Gallatin National Forest provides 340 miles of all-terrain vehicle / utility terrain vehicle-specific trail opportunities. This trail system is popular with local communities as well as visitors. This project entails the maintenance with heavy equipment on the motorized trails. The trail work will include re-establishing tread, improving drainage, and other similar tasks.


Bitterroot Trail Reconditioning and Drainage Repair ($300,000)

Bitterroot National Forest, Idaho and Montana

This two-year project addresses vital deferred maintenance needs across the Bitterroot National Forest trails system. Work will include improved drainage and structure repair, tread reconstruction, and brushing of trail corridors to maintain recreation access and improve the sustainability and safety of the trail system. Deferred maintenance tasks will occur inside and outside designated Wilderness areas, benefitting both motorized and non-motorized users.


Recent Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Activity

  • Spokane, Wash. – The Bureau of Land Management announced the acquisition of 647 acres in the scenic Yakima River Canyon near Ellensburg, made possible by the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The acquisition consists of grassy uplands adjacent to river access at the BLM Umtanum Camp Site. These new public lands include three parcels—Bighorn, Beavertail, and Umtanum—spanning both sides of the Yakima River. The canyon offers valuable recreational opportunities such as wildlife watching, rafting, hiking, and camping.
  • Boise, Idaho – The BLM Boise District extended the 30-day comment period by two weeks on the Grand View Travel Management Plan Environmental Assessment, allowing input through April 15. The proposed plan designates motorized access routes through northeast Owyhee County in southwestern Idaho, ensuring public access to 251,000 acres of BLM-managed lands while managing resources responsibly. Specifically, the Grand View Travel Management Plan designates 312 to 771 miles as open to the public for off-highway vehicles (OHV) and 209 to 363 as open to all motorized vehicles. Between 551 and 894 miles are proposed to close as many of these routes are unnecessary because of the large number of parallel roads leading to the same areas. The proposed alternative routes safeguard access, including competitive motorized use, while preventing further resource damage and providing an opportunity to improve natural resources.
  • The BLM hosted various Clean-Up events nationwide promoting environmental stewardship on Earth Day, April 22.