If you’ve visited any of our National Parks and other public lands recently, you may have noticed that things are looking a bit rough around the edges. Like an old house whose owner neglects routine upkeep, our park infrastructure has fallen into disrepair. Trails have been closed, restrooms shuttered, picnic tables and fire pits are rotted and rusted, fields are overgrown, trail blazes have faded. It’s all part of an estimated $22 billion maintenance backlog affecting all of our federal public lands, including those managed by the National Park Service, the Forest Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Bureau of Indian Education.
Fortunately, help is on the horizon. The Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) is bipartisan legislation that would guarantee funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and provide almost $2 billion annually for national parks and other agencies related to outdoors recreation and the environment. A full $9.5 billion dollars—derived from energy development revenues on federal land and water—would be allocated over the next five years to address the most pressing maintenance needs.
Additionally, the GAOA would guarantee funding of the LWCF to the tune of $900 million per year, and protect those funds from potential diversion to projects outside of their intended purpose. The bill has passed the Senate and is scheduled to go up for House vote later this month. The president has indicated that he will sign the bill. If that happens, the GAOA will be the largest public-lands funding since the early 1900s!
Please urge your representative to support the Great American Outdoors Act, so we can repair our public lands infrastructure and ensure access to the American outdoors.