U.S. House of Representatives Passes Great American Outdoors Act
July 22, 2020
This Landmark Conservation Bill Now Moves to the White House for Final Approval
HARPERS FERRY, W.Va. (July 22, 2020) – With a vote of 310-107 in favor, the Great American Outdoors Act was passed today by the U.S. House of Representatives. This vote in favor of conservation now sends this landmark legislation to the White House for President Trump’s signature, who has previously voiced his support for its passing. (Update: President Trump signed the Great American Outdoors Act into law on August 4, 2020).
The Act provides full, permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and creates a Restoration Fund to address the deferred maintenance needs of federal public lands. Once signed into law, billions of dollars will be made available for a variety of public lands projects ranging from landscape preservation to infrastructure improvements.
“The Appalachian Trail Conservancy applauds Congress for passing the most important conservation bill in decades,” said Sandra Marra, President & CEO of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC). “By fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund and providing billions of dollars for deferred maintenance projects, the Great American Outdoors Act will enhance the safety and accessibility of public lands like the Appalachian Trail and ensure the legacy of outdoor spaces and experiences passes on to the next generation. We urge the President to sign this bill into law without delay.”
The Great American Outdoors Act is the top legislative priority for the ATC in the 116th Congress, as it will directly address millions of dollars needed to properly protect and maintain the A.T. Funding LWCF at its fully authorized level — $900 million a year — would double what was available in 2019 for states, municipalities and the federal government to conserve land for recreation and wildlife habitats. The Trail as we know it would not exist without the support of the LWCF, which has protected via state and federal funding streams such varied locations as Blood Mountain in Georgia, the Roan Highlands of Tennessee and North Carolina, the Cumberland Valley of Pennsylvania and community forests throughout New Hampshire and Vermont.
The Restoration Fund would make available $9.5 billion over five years, with $6 billion slated for National Park System units, about $1.4 billion slated for National Forest System units, $475 million for National Wildlife Refuges. The A.T. intersects six other park system units, eight national forests, and three wildlife refuges. Across all its public lands, the United States has a deferred maintenance backlog of $20 billion. Releasing these funds now will aid in economic recovery while keeping our special places ready to receive visitors.
For more information about this Act and how it can help preserve the A.T., visit appalachiantrail.org/gaoa.
About the Appalachian Trail Conservancy
The ATC was founded in 1925 by volunteers and federal officials working to build a continuous footpath along the Appalachian Mountains. A unit of the National Park System, the A.T. ranges from Maine to Georgia and is 2,193 miles in length. It is the longest hiking-only footpath in the world. The mission of the ATC is to protect, manage, and advocate for the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. For more information, please visit www.appalachiantrail.org.
Lead image by Brent McGuirt Photography