Bipartisan senators praise passage of Great American Outdoors Act

“Years of bipartisan work have led to this moment and this historic opportunity for conservation.”

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Image Credit: Michael Quinn/National Park Service

Shortly after the U.S. Senate passed a major lands conservation bill named the Great American Outdoors Act last week, both Democratic and Republican senators issued statements supporting the legislation and celebrating its passage.

On March 9, Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Steve Daines (R-MT), Rob Portman (R-OH), Mark Warner (D-VA), Angus King (I-ME), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Richard Burr (R-NC) introduced S. 3422, the Great American Outdoors Act, landmark legislation to preserve and protect our country’s public lands. The bipartisan legislation provides permanent and full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and addresses the nearly $12 billion maintenance backlog in our national parks and other land management agencies.

On Wednesday, the Great American Outdoors Act passed in a 73-25 vote on the Senate floor. The legislation would permanently provide $900 million in oil and gas revenues for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which helps secure land for trails and parks.

“Years of bipartisan work have led to this moment and this historic opportunity for conservation,” Sen. Gardner said in a press release on Wednesday.“Today the Senate passed not only the single greatest conservation achievement in generations, but also a lifeline to mountain towns and recreation communities hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. I call on the House of Representatives to pass this bill without delay in order to provide jobs to the American people, economic stimulus to communities in need, and protections for the great American outdoors for future generations of Americans to cherish.”

“This watershed conservation legislation will protect Oregon’s treasured places for generations to come. And it couldn’t come at a better time with the economic impact of the COVID-19 emergency hitting our rural communities like a wrecking ball,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) said in a recent statement. “The LWCF not only helps to get people outdoors and expand access to public lands, it has a proven track record of boosting the economies of the communities near those lands. It’s the ultimate game plan for economic success in rural Oregon when you’re talking about jobs and recreation around our natural wonders.”

In a joint statement, Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said: “While we must see the Senate immediately address our country’s unprecedented economic and public health crisis and pass emergency relief legislation, passage of the Great American Outdoors Act would deliver tremendous value to current and future generations of Vermonters. During this pandemic, safe recreation and outdoor exercise are more essential than ever. Vermonters would benefit from this legislation’s investments in well-maintained forests, hiking trails and public lands. It would allow Vermont to create conservation jobs, greatly expand opportunities for hiking and recreation in our beautiful state, benefit our local economy through outdoor tourism, and help us combat climate change. As original cosponsors of this bill, we look forward to seeing it quickly enacted into law.”

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