Facilitated Access - The Coalition for Outdoor Access

The Mountaineers, along with many outdoor organizations including nonprofits, universities, outfitter-guides, and experience difficulties in accessing National Forests for group use.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
July 07, 2015
Facilitated Access - The Coalition for Outdoor Access
Mountaineers Adventure Club teens climbing trip

The Mountaineers have been helping people enjoy responsible outdoor recreation for over 100 years. Recent difficulties with outfitter-guide permits for facilitated use in National Forests have restricted many organizations from taking people outside. As as result, numerous people are unable to learn, appreciate, and experience America's Forests. Complex and inconsistent permitting procedures make the current system difficult for everyone.

A strong coalition of outdoor organizations formed the Coalition for Outdoor Access (COA; formerly the Outdoor Access Working Group) to work on breaking down bureaucratic barriers  that make it so people are not able to responsibly experience our National Forests through the use of outdoor recreation organizations and companies.

Current Difficulties with Permits for Outdoor Organizations on National Forests

Due to Forests not issuing new outfitter-guide permits, limited information on permit availability, and often-insurmountable requirements, many outdoor organizations are not able to take groups outside on National Forests.

Issues include:

  • Forests are not issuing new outfitter-guide permits.
  • Land managers and permit holders have to spend significant time on cumbersome permits, applications, and reporting requirements.
  • Permit holders are often unable to introduce new uses to adapt to changing needs and demands.
  • Permit seekers encounter difficulties learning about permit availability and how to apply. Some forests are not issuing new permits because of where they are with planning processes. This means that entire organizations cannot get permits to take people out on the Forest.

 The Coalition for Outdoor Access

To address these issues, a wide spectrum of outdoor organizations came together in August 2014 to form the Outdoor Access Working Group, now the Coalition for Outdoor Access. The group includes small and large nonprofits, outfitter guides, universities, advocacy groups, and representatives of the outdoor industry.

The Coalition for Outdoor Access Steering Committee is made up of the following organizations:


    summit scramble

    The Coalition for Outdoor Access believes that outdoor recreation plays a crucial role in the future protection of America’s National Forests and unfortunately, the current system often acts as a barrier that prevents organizations and businesses from taking people outdoors.

    You can learn more about the Coalition for Outdoor Access's platform and goals, as well as a more detailed background of this issue in this blog.

    You can read COA's official stance and perspectives on this issue via the OAWG - Access White Paper


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