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A wide variety of outdoor recreation and conservation groups on Wednesday issued press releases praising 73-25 passage by the U.S. Senate of full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund in the Great American Outdoors Act. The bill still has to go to the House, where it’s expected to pass. Here’s a statement from Jessica Goad, deputy director, Conservation Colorado:
“Since its creation in 1965, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has enjoyed some of the most bipartisan support we have ever seen for conservation legislation. And while so many things are changing, our support for this program has not.
“We’d like to thank the members of our federal delegation who worked for years to fully fund and permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund. This critical legislation will play a significant role in Colorado’s path to economic recovery while ensuring that we have more public lands, open space, and parks during this time of a pandemic when so many people are finding solace in the outdoors. We look forward to the House taking this bill up as soon as possible.
“Now, we’re anxious to see Congress and our Congressional delegation take action to continue to protect Colorado’s environment, such as passing bold climate policies, protecting the budget and enforcement powers of the Environmental Protection Agency, ensuring public lands protections like the CORE Act, and standing up against Trump administration nominees who are attacking bedrock environmental protections.”
And here’s a release from the Outdoor Alliance:
Today, Outdoor Alliance, a coalition of recreation groups representing the interests of millions of outdoor enthusiasts, shared its enthusiasm for the recent Senate passage of the Great American Outdoors Act, which will provide $1.9 billion in funding for up to five years for maintenance of National Parks, National Forests, and other public lands, and permanently funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund at $900 million each year.
In the last few weeks, the outdoor community sent more than 33,000 messages to lawmakers about the bill, contributing to its strong bipartisan passage 73 to 25 this morning. Once it becomes law, the funding will benefit the millions of Americans who get outside each year and, crucially, will help fund the creation of new green spaces at a time when equitable access to the outdoors is more important than ever.
“We are delighted to see the Senate pass the Great American Outdoors Act,” said Adam Cramer, Executive Director of Outdoor Alliance. “It is a landmark moment for the outdoors and underscores the bipartisan popularity and importance of protecting our public lands and waters. This is a perfect time to guarantee that all Americans, in our wonderful diversity, can have access to the outdoors. The Great American Outdoors Act will help make this happen by funding maintenance and restoration of the country’s iconic public lands and waters, and investing in building new trails, parks, and green spaces in perpetuity.”
“This bill represents the culmination of years of work by people across the country, and across the political spectrum, who value public lands and outdoor recreation. Every single person who’s taken action for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and to restore our Parks and other public lands deserves a round of applause today. It’s heartening to see that even in a time when it seems Congress can’t agree on anything, they still recognize the importance of investing in public lands,” said Hilary Eisen, Policy Director at Winter Wildlands Alliance.
Dave Wiens, IMBA Executive Director, said, “The pandemic has revitalized the importance of the outdoors. At the same time, it has highlighted how we don’t have enough mountain bike trails close to home, and how trail access isn’t always equitable. The Great American Outdoors Act will help meet demand for accessible outdoor spaces, put people to work building trails and parks, and help create trail systems that provide lasting economic benefits.”
“The Surfrider Foundation applauds the Senate’s passage of the Great American Outdoors Act. This historic legislation will not only protect outstanding coastal areas across the U.S., but also provide close-to-home recreation opportunities for all Americans. We urge the House of Representative to swiftly pass the bill as well so it can be signed into law,” said Pete Stauffer, Environmental Director, Surfrider Foundation.
Thomas O’Keefe, Pacific Northwest Stewardship Director of American Whitewater, said “Providing the public with access to our nation’s rivers is a high priority for our organization and we have partnered with river managers and land trusts from across the country to use the Land and Water Conservation Fund to secure river access. We are thrilled that the Great American Outdoors Act fulfills the commitment to fully fund this important program that we use to improve access to rivers and enhance opportunities to enjoy them.”
“Access Fund has fought for LWCF funding and maintenance of our public lands for many years, so we are happy to see the Senate move the Great American Outdoors Act one step closer to becoming law. The Great American Outdoors Act will not only create more equitable outdoor spaces and better recreation infrastructure for all Americans, it will help our country recover from the pandemic by stimulating new jobs in the outdoors and supporting a renewed health and wellness,” said Erik Murdock, Access Fund Policy Director.
“The Mountaineers are thrilled to see this historic, bipartisan legislation get closer to the finish line. Outdoor enthusiasts across Washington state have spoken up for LWCF for years, as the program has helped fund trails, parks, river put-ins, trailheads, and access to climbing areas in the Pacific Northwest. We’re especially grateful for Senator Cantwell’s tireless support of LWCF and all her efforts to get this bill through the Senate,” said Tom Vogl, CEO at The Mountaineers.
“Fair and equitable access to community parks, green spaces, and public lands should be afforded to all, and those outdoor spaces need to be well resourced and protected. The GAOA is a big step in the right direction for public land conservation,” said Taylor Luneau, Policy Manager at the American Alpine Club.