On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate voted 73-25 to pass the Great American Outdoors Act (S.3422), bipartisan legislation (co-sponsored by Senator Dianne Feinstein and Senator Kamala Harris) to fully and permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and address priority repair needs in U.S. National Parks and other land management agencies.
Over more than 50 years in existence, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) has helped preserve public land in the United States. When enacted, The LWCF was intended to provide up to $900 million a year to preserve natural sites, meet demand for outdoor recreation, and provide access to the resources needed “for individual enjoyment and to assume the physical, cultural, and spiritual benefits of outdoor recreation”. The LWCF was permanently reauthorized in 2019, but has been woefully underfunded throughout the years.
The Great American Outdoors Act passed by the Senate would make two significant changes:
- Establish the National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration fund to support deferred maintenance projects, providing up to $9.5 billion over the course of the first five years.
- Guarantee $900 million a year to the LWCF in perpetuity.
The Great American Outdoors Act now heads to the House of Representatives where it is expected to be taken-up before the July 4th Recess. And, the legislation recently secured the backing of President Trump who, in March, called on Congress to send this legislation to his desk to be signed into law.