Great American Outdoors Act passes through Senate

"Passage of the Great American Outdoors Act will move us one step closer to fulfilling the LWCF’s promise and secure the future of our parks and public lands for the next generation."

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The Senate passed the Great American Outdoors Act, which allocates billions of dollars in funding for trails, parks, and public lands and water nationwide. Next, the bill will go to the House, where representatives will have to pass an identical version before President Donald Trump can sign it into law.

According to Outdoor Alliance, a nonprofit coalition of national advocacy organizations, the bill includes “permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and funding for the maintenance backlog on National Parks, National Forest, and other public lands.” It will allocate as much as $2.8 billion a year for public lands, outdoor recreation, maintenance and restoration, and new green spaces.

“The Land and Water Conservation Fund has always held the promise of ensuring that our nation’s public lands and waters would be protected for future generations,” Jackie Ostfeld, campaign director for Sierra Club’s Outdoors for All, said. “For too long, that promise has been broken as the fund has been diverted for non-conservation purposes. Our national parks and public lands are places where all should be able to experience the healing benefits of time in nature, but for far too many, parks and public lands are unjustly inaccessible.”

The bipartisan bill, which passed through the Senate in a 73-25 vote, will also address the billions of dollars of backlog maintenance needed in many of the national parks and public lands.

“Full funding will dramatically expand investments in state and local park projects that have been woefully under-resourced and begin to address historical injustices that have prevented far too many communities from having nearby access to nature,” Ostfeld said. “At a time when 10 million people cannot safely walk to a park from their home, it’s time to invest in communities and make access to the outdoors for all. We encourage the House to pass this legislation quickly and double-down on efforts to ensure justice and equity in the outdoors.”

President Trump, whose budget initially included almost nothing to LWCF spending entirely, tweeted back in March that he was looking to Congress to get the bill on his desk. So many outdoor enthusiasts and conservationists are confident the President will sign it into law if a similar one is passed by the House.

“Passage of the Great American Outdoors Act will move us one step closer to fulfilling the LWCF’s promise and secure the future of our parks and public lands for the next generation,” Ostfeld said.

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