Great American Outdoors Act Passes Senate

With all that is occurring in our world, we could all use a bit of good news these days. 

In a historic 73-25 bipartisan vote, the Senate passed the Great American Outdoors Act — bringing us one step closer to finally providing full and dedicated funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Since its establishment in 1964, LWCF has supported over 41,000 state and local park projects, contributing $778 billion to the nation's economy annually and providing 5.2 million sustainable jobs nationwide. Yet it has only been fully funded once in its history. Today's vote will lead to the conservation of local, state and national treasures, providing more Americans with access to the outdoors while contributing more to the nation's economy and securing more jobs. It is therefore not only historically significant, but incredibly important as people seek these lands for respite and recreation and as our country fights to restore our economy and get people back to work.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) puts hundreds of millions dollars to protecting untouched wildernesses, key inholdings within National Parks and National Forests, and towards a backlog of outdoor recreational maintenance and enhancement projects.  Within the last two years, we have seen LWCF permanently authorized after threat of elimination to now (pending U.S. House of Representatives vote) fully funded starting potentially the next fiscal year.  This funding source enables better partnerships with local land trusts to accomplish overlapping goals of conservation, preservation, and recreation.  LWCF has been applied in almost every county in the United States and in all 50 states.  Fully funding LWCF will further enhance and protect quality of life through the protections of forests that feed and recharge drinking water to providing great recreational opportunities that provide outdoor outlets during pandemic and normal times (which also boosts the tourism economy).  

Wolf River Conservancy works with Holly Springs National Forest on land management and upkeep on the Baker’s Pond Hiking Trail at the source of the Wolf River.  Requiring a fully-funded LWCF will likely expand our partnership and hopefully lead to more wonderful Wolf River wetlands being protected.

Please take a moment to thank members of the Senate(link is external) who voted in favor of this landmark legislation. Acknowledge the importance of funding our parks, public lands and outdoor recreation infrastructure during this critical time in our nation's history. Passing this bill will ensure this critical program continues to protect our natural infrastructure and the lands we hold so dear.

We must now turn our focus to the U.S. House of Representatives, which is expected to take up the bill the week of June 29 for final passage. It's time to finish the job by calling and emailing your representative and urging them to vote "yea" on the Great American Outdoors Act. To find your representative, click here(link is external).

Passing the Great American Outdoors Act is not only a historic event. It's a chance to strengthen conservation, restore our economy, create much needed jobs and, in general, brighten the health and well-being of this great land. The time to get it done is now.

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Posted by Cathy Justis at 11:50 AM