America’s Outdoor Recreation Act: Expanding Opportunities for Motorized Recreation
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic posed many unique challenges to the United States, not least of which being the surge in visitation to public lands as outdoor enthusiasts sought refuge from the virus. According to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), properties managed by that agency alone attracted more than 37 million visitors in 2020. Close to 1 million off-highway travelers visited BLM sites in that year, and with the continued expansion of the UTV and overlanding automotive sectors, that number should only increase in the coming years.
This increase in attendance represents the continuation of a long-term trend. A recent survey by Montana-based think tank Headwaters Economics estimated that visitations to lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the BLM increased roughly 15% during the 2010–2019 time period—before COVID. On the flip side, the BLM and USFS have both experienced budget rollbacks of roughly the same percentage during the decade (much of the funds having been diverted to fire mitigation efforts in the Western United States).