U.S. Congress passes the Great American Outdoors Act

Extraordinary good news is especially welcome right now.

The U.S. Congress made a historic investment in America’s public lands – an investment that will leave a positive legacy on American conservation for generations to come.

Lawmakers came together across the political aisle to pass the Great American Outdoors Act, a bill that will permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and inaugurate the National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund which will support deferred maintenance and repairs in national parks and forests. The Great American Outdoors Act was introduced on March 9, 2020 and approved by the Senate by a vote of 73-25 on July 17. The companion bill in the House was introduced on June 4 and was approved today by a vote of 310-107. It now heads to the president’s desk for his signature.

At a time when our country needs a win, the Great American Outdoors Act will create jobs in communities across America in park maintenance and operations, wildlife habitat restoration, recreation, tourism and outdoor retail. It will make nature more accessible to more families by broadening and ensuring recreation access for wildlife viewing, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, biking and other outdoor activities – whether they be in national parks or city neighborhood playfields.

Visitors and residents spend more than $26 billion on outdoor recreation in Washington, generating 200,000 jobs and more than $2 billion in state and local tax revenues – money that is especially essential for many rural economies across our state.

And in the Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Area, LWCF funding has helped conserve more than 90,000 acres of land in nearly 50 separate land acquisitions. Iconic places such as Snoqualmie Point Park, vast stretches of the Pacific Crest Trail, wildlife watching areas in the L.T. Murray, water access along the Yakima River, the kite flying hill at Gas Works Park in Seattle, and so many more, provide treasured places for access to nature to enjoy today and for future generations.

National parks and wildlife habitat, waterways and forested foothills, and neighborhood parks and trails will be conserved and maintained, improving ecological health, boosting economic recovery and providing sustainable outdoor access for all.

Thank you, members of Congress, for passing the momentous Great American Outdoors Act today.

Update: The Great American Outdoors Act was signed into law August 4, 2020.