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Trump signs Great American Outdoors Act: ‘Legislation of a generation’

On Tuesday, August 4, President Donald Trump signed the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA), the largest public lands fund since the creation of the National Parks Service in 1916. Permanently authorized last year, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which aims to repair and replace deteriorated park infrastructure, will be funded up to $9.5 billion over the next five years.

According to the American Conservation Coalition, state and national parks generate over $166 billion per year in economic revenue and employ roughly 1.1 million people. The parks, which have seen years of neglect in funding, are in dire need of reconstruction and updates as reported in the parks’ backlog of repairs. The bill will permanently fund the LCWF for the maintenance of these projects. 

Funding for the Great American Outdoors Act relies on offshore oil and natural gas revenues. Historically, fossil fuel energy revenues collected for conservation efforts have been diverted to separate programs not related to conservation. This bill promptly fixes that issue. It will solely allocate $900 million in oil and natural gas deposits to land and water conservation efforts.

GAOA will employ an additional 100,000 people to help manage the nearly $12 billion worth of deferred repairs. With nearly 325 million annual visitors, the infrastructure of the parks desperately needs this bill to continue bringing in over $20 million annually in direct community spending.

Said President Trump during his signing speech: “[W]e can protect our treasured environment without bludgeoning our workers and crushing our businesses, and we’re standing up to international tribunals that punish Americans while allowing foreign nations to pollute with impunity.”

This bill was a bipartisan effort spearheaded by Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Steve Daines (R-MT). Noted as “a landmark piece of legislation that will define a generation,” Sen. Daines, along with many conservative conservation groups, have applauded this bill as a win for public land advocates, hunters and anglers, and outdoor recreationists.

Funding the LCWF will guarantee the parks can make the much-needed repairs keeping the operation for outdoor enthusiasts. Preserving the nation’s natural resources and parks is a growing concern to many of the 39 percent of the U.S. population who visit the parks annually as reported by Roper Research. Nearly every national park and open space has seen an increase in users year-over-year. The demands for infrastructure updates will be met providing better preservation along with better user experience overall.

PHOTO: Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour

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