ATC Staff

Congress Passes the Great American Outdoors Act

July 23, 2020

Late yesterday, history was made in Washington, D.C.

By a vote of 310-107 in favor, the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. Receiving overwhelming bipartisan support from the House, the U.S. Senate (where the vote was 73-25) and the White House, we expect this transformative conservation bill will be signed into law in the next week or so.

GAOA is the most significant piece of conservation legislation in decades, permanently funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and creating a Restoration Fund to address much of 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.

To say this Act will be great for the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) is an understatement, which is why the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) made GAOA its top legislative priority for the 116th Congress. It will directly address millions of dollars needed to properly protect and maintain the A.T., which includes at least $24 million in deferred maintenance projects. A fully funded LWCF will mean important Trail lands will be protected for both recreation and conservation needs. Just a few areas LWCF has helped protect in the past include 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.

In short, GAOA will greatly enhance our ability to fulfill our mission to protect, manage, and advocate for the A.T.

This could never have been accomplished without your help. Our sincere thanks go out to everyone who contacted their U.S. Senators and Representatives to let them know how important GAOA is to the A.T. and our public lands.

Our thanks also go to the Act’s cosponsors in Congress who recognize the importance of our parks, forests, trails, rivers and other irreplaceable public lands for outdoor recreation, local economies and environmental protection.

The Great American Outdoors Act is a prime example of what can be accomplished when individuals of all backgrounds and political beliefs work together for the benefit of everyone. We will continue to support and push for similar cooperation to help ensure irreplaceable treasures like the Appalachian Trail are protected forever for all to enjoy.

Thank you for being a voice for the Trail!


The Appalachian Trail Conservancy Team

Help us continue to our mission to protect, manage, and advocate for the Appalachian National Scenic Trail.