One of the largest conservation bills drafted in recent memory was signed into law today, ending a months-long process that began in June, when the measure was first approved by the U.S. Senate.

The Great American Outdoors Act guarantees mandatory, permanent financing of the Land and Water Conservation Fund at $900 million a year and earmarks $1.9 billion annually for the next five years to address 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.

“The Great American Outdoors Act is now law, and that’s no small accomplishment," said Environment America conservation program director Steve Blackledge today. "There’s finally a lock and key on money that was always intended for conservation projects—yet, for decades, has been consistently diverted to other purposes. This new law is not only a major investment in outdoor spaces but also in every American’s physical and mental health. It’s a decisive step toward acknowledging that our lives are made richer if surrounded by more nature, more open spaces, whether it’s a local park or the Grand Canyon."

The bill attracted unusual bipartisan support after it was introduced on March 9, 2020, by Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, who said he expected it to create 100,000 new jobs if passed. It was co-sponsored by 59 additional senators from both sides of the aisle and received endorsements from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and six former U.S. Secretaries of the Interior. The bill passed the Senate on June 17 and was approved by the House of Representatives on July 22.

"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," said Phil Francis, chair of the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks, after the bill was approved by the House of last month.

“Now that the president has signed the Great American Outdoors Act, it is time to roll up our sleeves and get to work implementing the law to conserve our public lands and waters, revitalize our rural and gateway communities and provide a boost to the outdoor recreation industry,” said Jessica Wahl, executive director of Outdoor Recreation Roundtable. “We cannot thank all the outdoor businesses and associations, elected republicans and democrats, and countless individuals enough for their efforts to achieve this once-in-a-lifetime investment. Now let’s get to work!”

Read the full text of the bill here.

Related

elton-menefee-AHgCFeg-gXg-unsplash

Great American Outdoors Act passes the Senate

In an extraordinary display of bipartisan agreement, the U.S. Senate voted Wednesday to pass the Great American Outdoors Act, a bill that guarantees mandatory, permanent financing for the Land and Water Conservation Fund at $900 million a year and sets aside $1.9 billion annually ...read more

leon-lee-wUnyEFiduQc-unsplash

Congress approves the Great American Outdoors Act

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 ...read more

A front view of The White House with a red overlay

The Trump administration neuters the Great American Outdoors Act

Well, that didn't take long. Public lands advocates cheered this summer when the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA), which guarantees permanent financial support for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), was passed. Now, just a few months later, a top official in the ...read more

rene-deanda-zfKlCKK-Ql0-unsplash

20 environmental groups sue the Trump administration

Earlier this month, the Trump administration announced a significant overhaul to one of the country's bedrock environmental laws, the National Environmental Policy Act, a move that led to outcry among conservation groups across the nation. "The new rules reduce transparency, ...read more

wolves

Industry Buzz: Rossignol changes leadership, Trump undercuts the Great American Outdoors Act, Vista Outdoors boosts sales, Colorado reintroduces wolves

Industry headlines: Intriguing reads from around the web Rossignol gets new CEO: The company will transfer its leadership from 16-year chief executive Bruno Cercley to Vincent Wauters in Q1 of 2021. GAOA threatened: The Trump administration is already undercutting the ...read more

Untitled design

Bank of America doesn't oppose drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. So The Conservation Alliance dropped them.

Earlier this month, The Conservation Alliance announced that it would end its association with Bank of America over concerns about the institution's commitment to environmental protection, abruptly severing a partnership that has lasted for years. "Today, we are announcing our ...read more

A large lake surrounded by rocky hills with pine trees in the foreground.

Industry Buzz: Outdoor panic buying, JAM Sessions, SOAR Act advances, GoPro's new gear line, Trail Otter, new outdoor holiday

Industry headlines: Intriguing reads from around the web Panic buying, part two: Instead of toilet paper and pasta, people are now making a run on kayaks, tents, and other outdoor gear. [The New York Times] DEI-focused discussion: The next JAM Session from JAM Collective, ...read more

julian-hochgesang-jyoTLVMv9So-unsplash

Industry Buzz: Remeasuring Everest, Boston Marathon cancelled, Great American Outdoors Act, bike sales

Industry headlines: Intriguing reads from around the web Updating Everest’s height: A team of researchers has summited the mountain to remeasure the peak’s height. A longstanding number could soon change. [Outside Online] The Boston Marathon is canceled: For first time in ...read more

michael-bryant-g6Pir20bEo0-unsplash

Industry Buzz: Great American Outdoors Act, national park updates, National Trails Day, rewilding Patagonia

Industry headlines: Intriguing reads from around the web Outdoor companies speak up: Patagonia, L.L. Bean, The North Face, and others publicly joined OIA in calling for the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act. [The Hill] Support the effort yourself: Sign this letter from ...read more