Senate Passes the Great American Outdoors Act
Wednesday, June 17, 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C. – June 17, 2020 – The U.S. Senate passed the Great American Outdoors Ac this afternoon with a 73- 25 vote earlier this afternoon. This package is the largest public lands and conservation package in the past 50 years, and the single largest outdoor recreation package ever passed.
The Great American Outdoors Act received unprecedented bipartisan support, and will strategically invest in our nation’s public parks and waters to create opportunities for increased public access to the outdoors and support for the entire recreation economy. The package includes two parts: permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), and the Restore our Parks Act (ROPA).
The Land and Water Conservation Fund uses revenues from offshore oil and gas leases to support conservation efforts. Established in 1964, LWCF has funded recreation opportunities in all 50 states, ranging from National parks to baseball fields, wildlife refuges, and river and lake access points. Every year LWCF rakes in $900 million in royalties for these conservation programs; unfortunately, Congress has not fully funded the program each year, resulting in a federal backlog of $30 billion in areas important to recreational boating like the Florida Everglades. Additionally, State governments report needing $27 billion to fund local and state park projects.
The Restore our Parks Act specifically directs funds to maintenance projects in national parks, forests, and waterways. The National Park Service reports an $11.9 billion backlog in deferred maintenance projects, including cleaning up polluted waterways, repairing bridges and trails, and modernizing important buildings and structures. ROPA would ensure that our nation commits to maintaining the public lands and waters our industry depends on, and preventing a future pileup of projects.
Together through the Great American Outdoors Act, Congress has an opportunity to invest in rural economies, repair recreation infrastructure, and recognize the importance the outdoor recreation economy has in our nation’s recovery. As we already know, the outdoors gives us and our advocates ways to stay safe and healthy – both mentally and physically – by escaping the anxiety and uncertainty in our current world.
The U.S. House of Representatives introduced its own version of the Great American Outdoors Act two weeks ago and will begin consideration following the Senate’s passage.
For additional information, please contact MRAA government relations manager Adam Fortier-Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.