"Great American Outdoors Act" signed into law, permanently guaranteeing full LWCF funding
WASHINGTON, August 4, 2020 — With today’s signing of the “Great American Outdoors Act” into law, the Land and Water Conservation Fund is now permanently and fully funded at $900 million a year, something that many legislators, community leaders and conservation groups have been fighting for since the program’s creation in 1964. The “Great American Outdoors Act” also provides funding for a backlog of maintenance needs for national parks and other public lands.
Statement from Jamie Williams, President of The Wilderness Society.
“With today’s signing of the ‘Great American Outdoors Act’ into law, Congress has finally fulfilled the 55-year-old promise of the Land and Water Conservation Fund – the nation’s most effective program for strengthening communities through conservation and improved access to outdoor recreation. This incredible victory comes after years of bipartisan support and tireless leadership from long-term and recent champions in both the House and Senate, and reminds us that conservation of our shared outdoor spaces is something we can all come together on.
“Never has the moment been more urgent for Congress to finally enable LWCF to serve its full potential. It can and should be a go-to tool for addressing some of our most pressing environmental challenges – from supporting the recovery and growth of our outdoor recreation and tourism economies, to achieving equitable access to parks and the benefits of nature, to making public lands part of the solution to the climate and extinction crises. Now, with full and permanent funding, we have an unprecedented opportunity and obligation to use the Land and Water Conservation Fund to make meaningful progress toward these vital goals while protecting our most treasured places.”
Momentum for the “Great American Outdoors Act” came in part from the role it can play in promoting economic growth and recovery by putting people to work on park infrastructure projects and investing in gateway communities as well as recreation, travel and tourism businesses particularly hard-hit by the current economic crisis.
COVID-19 has spotlighted how critical national, state and local parks, trails and public lands are to the economies of communities across the country, as well as the stark inequities in who has quality access to these parks and healing outdoor spaces. With a fully funded Land and Water Conservation Fund, states and cities now have more resources to create more and safer outdoor spaces for people in every community - but especially communities that lack access to quality parks and opportunities to experience the benefits of time spent with nature.
Support from both long-term conservation champions and first-term Congress Members for full, permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund indicates a widespread appreciation for programs that invest in national and local lands, waters and communities that depend on them. Recent polling also shows the Westerners strongly support pro-public lands proposals, including 74 percent who supported fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
The overwhelming bipartisan support for and passage of the “Great American Outdoors Act” suggests that investment in parks, public lands and outdoor recreation infrastructure has an ongoing role to play in economic stimulus and efforts to create healthy communities.
- Kerry Leslie, Communications Manager, 415-398-1484, [email protected]
- Drew McConville, Senior Managing Director of Government Relations, 202-429-2654, [email protected]
The Wilderness Society is the leading conservation organization working to unite people to protect America's wild places. Founded in 1935, and now with more than one million members and supporters, The Wilderness Society has led the effort to permanently protect 111 million acres of wilderness and to ensure sound management of our shared national lands. www.wilderness.org