WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Senate’s passage of the Great American Outdoors Act is a victory for all Americans. The U.S. House of Representatives should quickly follow suit to help protect wildlife, restore national parks and other public lands, expand outdoor recreation opportunities and create jobs to boost our economy. The act will permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund and provide up to $9.5 billion over five years to address badly needed repairs and maintenance needs on America’s public lands.
“The passage of the Great American Outdoors Act is a truly historic conservation victory that will ensure that America’s public lands and treasured landscapes endure for future generations. It will also accelerate our economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis by creating hundreds of thousands of good jobs, while expanding outdoor recreational opportunities for every community in the country,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “We are grateful for the bipartisan leadership of Sens. Cory Gardner (R-Colo), Joe Manchin (D-WVa), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Steve Daines (R-MT), Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) to pass this legislation. We urge the House to act swiftly to pass the bill and send it to the President’s desk.”
For over five decades, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has helped create and maintain parks, hiking and biking trails, ballfields, hunting access and much more in nearly every county in America. It is funded from offshore oil revenues and is entitled to $900 million a year. Unfortunately, only twice in its history has it ever received the full amount. Permanent funding will allow LWCF to reach its full potential in creating access to national, state and local parks, forests and wildlife refuges and many other recreation areas.
Funding for deferred maintenance at the nation’s national parks and other public lands will be used to repair deteriorating roads, visitor centers and facilities. Each year hundreds of millions of people travel to national parks, forests and refuges. Visits to these places help fuel the outdoor recreation economy which supports over 7.6 million jobs and over $887 billion in annual consumer spending.
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More than one-third of U.S. fish and wildlife species are at risk of extinction in the coming decades. We're on the ground in seven regions across the country, collaborating with 53 state and territory affiliates to reverse the crisis and ensure wildlife thrive.