On July 22, 2020, The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the Great American Outdoors Act on a bipartisan vote of 310-107. This comes just a month after the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passed the package to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund and addressing the significant national park maintenance backlog. The most significant conservation package in a generation will now head to President Trump where it is expected to be signed into law.
“As boating becomes a more popular pastime, the Great American Outdoors Act is perfectly times to invest in our public lands and waters, and encourage outdoor recreation for families and enthusiasts alike,” said MRAA President, Matt Gruhn. “This package shows what can happen when our outdoor recreation community collaborates together on important issues like this. We thank Congress for their bipartisan passage of the Great American Outdoors Act that will provide ways to stay safe and healthy – both mentally and physically – by escaping the anxiety and uncertainty in our current world.”
“The Great American Outdoors Act is the most significant conservation and public lands package in a generation that will finally fully fund important maintenance and conservation projects to invest in our outdoor communities,” said MRAA government relations manager Adam Fortier-Brown. “This investment will ensure our public lands endure as a gift from our generation to those who come long after we are gone. We applaud Congress for passing the Great American Outdoors Act and proving strong bipartisan compromise is possible on important issues, and our outdoor recreation community for their tireless work on this.”
The Great American Outdoors Act is the largest public lands and conservation package in the past 50 years, and the single largest outdoor recreation package ever passed and 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.
For additional information, please contact MRAA government relations manager Adam Fortier-Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.