The U.S. House and Senate approved the farm bill this week, sending it to President Trump’s desk for his signature. The legislation contains several provisions favored by the recreational boating industry, which NMMA and its coalition partners worked to secure.
Specifically, the farm bill fully funds the conservation title – the backbone of land and water conservation efforts, promoting access and sustainable use for America’s hunters, anglers, and outdoor enthusiasts. In addition, the bill recognizes that existing programs within the Rural Development Title may be used to support outdoor recreation investments, if they meet the applicable program requirements.
Continued by this legislation is the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program: a competitive grants program that helps state and tribal governments increase public access to private lands for wildlife-dependent recreation, such as hunting, fishing, nature watching or hiking. Notably, this grant program has been used to build and maintain boat ramps.
To increase the impact of these programs on the outdoor recreation economy, the bill encourages the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to identify and support opportunities for outdoor recreation-related investments that result in rural economic growth, including outdoor recreation businesses, facilities, infrastructure, planning, and marketing. The legislation also urges coordination between Rural Development and U.S. Forest Service staff to identify opportunities to cooperate and leverage resources and investments.
Furthermore, the farm bill requires the consideration of opportunities to restore sustainable recreational infrastructure or access when designing restoration projects using the Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003 or under other authorities authorized in the Forestry title.
For more information, please contact NMMA senior vice president of government relations and legal affairs, Nicole Vasilaros at firstname.lastname@example.org.