Senate passes Great American Outdoors Act

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A teenager stands on the top the Little Stony Man mountain waiting for sunset in the Shenandoah National Park – Photo from Getty Images

Outdoor lovers, ready for some good news?

Yesterday, the U.S. Senate voted 73-25 to pass the Great American Outdoors Act, considered the biggest federal lands bill in 50 years. The bill fully funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) at a level of $900 million every year. The LWCF is considered the single largest funding source of outdoor recreation. Additionally, up to another $9.5 billion over five years will be provided to address backlogged maintenance issues in national parks and the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Indian Education. Seventy percent of the $9.5 billion will go to the park service. 

“By combining two longstanding public lands measures, the Great American Outdoors Act manages to promote better outdoor experiences today while ensuring that future generations will have the same special places to enjoy tomorrow,” Anders Reynolds, Federal Legislative Director for the Southern Environmental Law Center said in a press release. “Permanent funding for the popular Land and Water Conservation Fund is the perfect complement to the effort to address the $20 billion maintenance backlog in our National Parks—often called America’s best idea. SELC applauds the Senate’s passage of this important legislation and encourages the House of Representatives to act on it and other deserving public lands priorities soon.” 

The bill now heads to the House of Representatives where it is expected to have bipartisan support. In March, President Trump requested such a bill when he tweeted, “I’m calling on Congress to send me a Bill that fully and permanently funds the LWCF and restores our National Parks.” He is expected it sign it into law.  

Helpful Resources

Here you can reach out to encourage your Representatives to co-sponsor H.R. 7092: https://www.votervoice.net/STS/campaigns/64379/respond

Here you can find a break down of the impact for Southeastern states: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5d13d61e9f576c000131df23/t/5ee6637a945e9b489ad0dee7/1592157051053/NPS+Visitor+Spending+Effects.2019.pdf

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