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For many individuals, their first experience hiking along a scenic trail, navigating a river, angling for an elusive trout, or conquering a challenging biking path is often made possible by an outfitter, guide, volunteer club, university outdoor program, or non-profit outdoor organization.

These outdoor leaders and organizations play a crucial role in connecting diverse groups from different backgrounds and communities to the natural world. Outdoor leaders ensure that outdoor ventures are enjoyable and reasonably safe, and also nurture a sense of environmental stewardship. Through their leadership, people from all walks of life are able to develop meaningful connections to the expansive landscapes and waters of the United States.

In order to offer these outdoor opportunities, outdoor leaders are required to obtain special recreation permits from the agencies that manage the lands and waters they plan to visit. Unfortunately, the process for obtaining these permits is cumbersome, and not flexible enough to adapt to the evolving needs of the diverse user groups seeking access to public lands and waters. This inflexibility unnecessarily restricts opportunities for the public to experience these spaces, limits outdoor job growth, and undermines the economic vitality of rural communities dependent on recreational tourism.

To confront these challenges and enhance access to outdoor experiences, a dedicated alliance of leaders within the outdoor industry has founded the Coalition for Outdoor Access (COA).

What Makes COA’s Work So Important

  • Elevating the Outdoor Experience

    Outdoor leaders elevate the outdoor experience for participants. 

  • Educational Emphasis

    Outdoor leaders not only lead experiences but also educate, imparting proper techniques, area history, conservation values, resource protection, and more. Through their expertise, they cultivate a reverence for the land through shared encounters. 

  • Enabling All to Participate

    Many individuals face barriers in accessing public spaces due to transportation limitations, lack of equipment, and insufficient knowledge or mentorship for a successful outing. Guided outdoor activities break down these barriers, enabling more inclusive participation. 

  • Safety Enhancement

    Issues often arise when novices try to imitate other users without adequate preparation. Professionally trained outdoor leaders are vigilant in protecting against dangerous incidents. They know the landscape well and are familiar with its unique hazards. This reduces risks and maximizes learning and enjoyment. 

  • Championing Resource Protection

    Outdoor leaders comprehend and convey the importance of preserved habitats and lands. As stakeholders reliant on public lands and waterways, outdoor businesses and organizations become essential advocates for responsible use and ethical conduct. They ensure visitors are abiding by rules and regulations and practicing low-impact visitation that ensures America’s public lands will be protected for generations to come. 


  • White paper on challenges in the outfitter-guide permitting system, Spring 2015 Review PDF »

  • Policy recommendations for improvements in the outfitter-guide permitting system, Spring 2016 Review PDF »

  • Comments on U.S. Department of the Interior Secretarial Order 3356, October 2017 Review PDF »

  • Comments on National Park Service Proposed Fee Increases at National Parks to Address Maintenance Backlog, November 2017 Review PDF »

  • Comments on United States Forest Service (USFS) Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on National Environmental Policy Act Compliance, January 2018 Review PDF »

  • Comments on U.S. Department of the Interior Secretarial Order 3366, June 2018 Review PDF »

  • Comments on Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Full Committee Hearing to Examine Opportunities to Improve Access, Infrastructure, and Permitting for Outdoor Recreation, March 2019 Review PDF »

  • Press Release on Introduction of the SOAR Act, May 23, 2019 Review PDF »

  • Comments on House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands Legislative Hearing on the Simplifying Outdoor Access for Recreation Act and the Recreation Not Red Tape Act, September 2019 Review PDF »

  • Vote Recommendation Letter for the House Natural Resources Committee Markup on July 28, 2020 Review PDF »

  • Testimony on the SOAR Act for the House Natural Resources Committee Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Legislative Hearing June 8, 2021 Review PDF »

  • Vote Recommendation Letter for the House Natural Resources Committee Markup on October 13, 2021 Review PDF »

  • Views Statement on the SOAR Act and Outdoor Recreation Act for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Legislative Hearing December 2, 2021 Review PDF »

  • COA Comments on the U.S. Forest Service’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Cost Recovery June 20, 2023 Review PDF »

  • COA Comments on the National Park Service On-Line Commercial Use Authorization Application and Reporting System September 20, 2023 Review PDF »