The U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass The Great American Outdoors Act today, bringing the landmark conservation bill one step close to becoming law.
The bill, which passed the Senate last month, guarantees mandatory, permanent financing of the Land and Water Conservation Fund at $900 million a year. It also earmarks $1.9 billion annually for the next five years to deal with maintenance backlogs on public lands administered by the National Park Service, the Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Bureau of Indian Education.
As the bill worked its way through the Senate in mid-June, Outdoor Industry Association executive director Lise Aangeenbrug and thousands of others in the outdoor community expressed strong support for the proposed measures. OIA even created an automated tool to help citizens urge their representatives to vote in favor of the act.
“As the country takes steps toward economic recovery from COVID-19, federal investment in our public lands and waterways are critical to boost local economies, create thousands of jobs and protect and improve our national parks,” said Aangeenbrug last month.
As news of the bill's passage spread through the outdoor industry this afternoon, dozens of leaders released statements of praise and thanks.
Phil Francis, chair of the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks, called the bill's passage "a momentous occasion."
"We applaud the bi-partisan effort in Congress and thank all the Senators and members of the House of Representatives who supported this act. It is one more huge step forward in supporting and restoring our national parks," Francis said.
“The Great American Outdoors Act is a major twenty-first century achievement and a reminder that when all sides work together, we can accomplish great things for the outdoors and the nation. We applaud House leaders—particularly Speaker Pelosi, Representatives Cunningham and Simpson, and many others—for helping to get this done,” said Jessica Wahl, executive director of Outdoor Recreation Roundtable.
Amy Roberts, Senior Director at The North Face, noted that "local park districts are [now] in a position to put LWCF dollars to work immediately. The full funding of LWCF is a key part of ensuring that the $887 billion recreation economy is a bright spot in our nation’s economic recovery strategy.”
The bill now heads to the White House for final passage into law. The President has 10 days to sign or veto it.