As of this writing, the US House of Representatives is set to vote on the Great American Outdoors Act. This piece of legislation is very important to the future of America’s public lands and wild places.
This Act has two parts that would be a big win for conservation efforts in America. The first part is full and permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). This fund generates $900 million ANNUALLY from revenue generated by oil and gas extraction in the Outer Continental Shelf. With it’s inception in 1964, the goal of the fund was to generate this money for protecting wild places, taking oil and gas from one environment and using those funds to protect other environments. However, every year Congress has to vote on where the money from the fund goes, and much of that money is diverted away from our natural resources.
With the Great American Outdoors Act, the Land and Water Conservation Fund will be permanently and fully funded, providing a consistent revenue stream to protect our wild spaces. No longer will the money be diverted to other “pet projects” at the behest of those in power, the money will only go towards what it was intended for in the first place. 98% of the counties in the United States have benefited from this fund. Everything from major conservation areas to city parks and pools have received funding from the LWCF.
Another part of the Great American Outdoors Act is $9.5 billion in funding to address the maintenance backlog in the American National Park system. Our National Parks are the envy of the rest of the world. Yet they are all plagued by maintenance backlogs that as the years go by keep upping the cost as more and more maintenance goes by the wayside. The National Park System was designed to protect these areas, but this backlog on maintenance is doing the exact opposite. This money would provide the National Park System with the ability to get back on track protecting our treasured wild places.
All Americans benefit from the Great American Outdoors Act. We should all support what it is set to do, to ensure our wild animals and wild places do not disappear.
The vote from the House of Representatives is soon. I urge everyone to contact their Representative and tell them as their constituent they need to vote in favor of the Great American Outdoors Act. Not to vote present, but actually vote yes. Call the US House switchboard at (202) 224-3121. They will then direct you to your representative where you can tell them to vote yes on the Great American Outdoors Act. Make them earn their place as your elected official. We have our natural resources to lose if we don’t get the Great American Outdoors Act across the finish line.