Senate introduces bill to fund public lands: the Great American Outdoors Act Explained

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Senate introduces bill to fund public lands

We could all use some good news, no? Well, here’s something to smile about. Last Monday, the Senate introduced a public lands funding bill called the Great American Outdoors Act that would provide $900 million to permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Act and give $1.9 billion to the Restore Our Parks Act to tackle deferred maintenance projects. The bill also includes $600 million to address maintenance projects in National Forests, BLM lands, the Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Indian Education.

Here’s what each piece of the Great American Outdoors Act would do:

The Land and Water Conservation Fund

Since 1964, The Land and Water Conservation Fund has paid $900 million a year to protect national parks, areas around rivers and lakes, national forests, and national wildlife refuges; and to provide matching grants for state and local parks and recreation projects. The funds come from revenues of offshore oil and gas extraction. While the money is available every year, it’s not guaranteed, and Congress often diverts the funds for other uses. The Great American Outdoors Act would guarantee funding for the LWCF.

Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act

After decades of neglect, the Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act would provide nearly $20 million to tackle deferred maintenance projects in the national parks, national forests, on BLM lands and more. Currently, the national parks have $11.9 billion in deferred maintenance, which severely impacts the parks and the public’s ability to enjoy them.

So where does all of this stand now? Last week, President Trump tweeted that he hoped Congress would send him a bill that fully and permanently funded the LWCF and restore the national parks. “When I sign it in to law,” Trump tweeted, “it will be HISTORIC for our beautiful public lands.”

In other news:

Artist draws national park posters based on one-star reviews and it’s epic

Illustrator Amber Share had a goal of drawing all the national parks, but says she wanted to find a way to do it with a twist. As she was browsing online one day, Amber says she began reading one-star reviews of the national parks, and the idea to draw park posters based on their bad reviews “just came to me.” We’re so happy it did, because the results are hilarious.

From a Grand Canyon park poster declaring it, “A hole. A very, very large hole,” to a closer-to-home review of Great Smoky Mountain National Park that says there’s, “Nothing special to do” there, Share’s art makes us giggle and reminds us that some people can make lemons out of just about anything. See all of her one-star poster designs on her Instagram feed @subparparks

Tennessee man who hiked the AT 18 times claims spot in hall of fame

Thru-hiking the 2,180-mile Appalachian Trail just once is a feat of endurance that few can accomplish, but hiking the trail 18 times? That bragging right is exclusive to Warren Doyle, a Mountain City, Tennessee man who has hiked the Appalachian Trail 18 times, including nine thru-hikes, the Patriot-News reports. 

In addition to the 39,000+ miles that Doyle has hiked on the AT, he is also a founding member of the Appalachian Trail Institute, which teaches hopeful thru-hikers the strategies they need to be successful on long-distance trails. On May 2, Doyle will claim his well-deserved spot in the Appalachian Trail Museum’s Appalachian Trail Hall of Fame.

WVDNR uses electrofishing technique to study walleye population

West Virginia anglers may be interested to learn that the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources uses electrofishing to manage the walleye population in the New River. Electrofishing is a common method of sampling fish populations to see how they’re doing in their habitat. Two electrodes are used to send electric currents through the water, which attracts fish and makes them easier to catch and study.

According to a news release, DNR biologists recently used the method to study New River walleye, which thrive in the Elk, Gauley and New rivers and can be found in the Cheat, Jennings Randolph, Summersville, Stonecoal, Tygart and Stephens lakes. “It doesn’t hurt the fish,” says assistant chief of fish management for the DNR, Mark Scott. “It just immobilizes them.” 

Featured Image: Family beside camp, campfire, tent under night starry sky from Getty Images

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