At least back on June 17, 2020 we found out that bipartisanship isn’t completely dead in Washington D.C. as the Senate voted overwhelmingly 73-25 to pass the Great American Outdoors Act (s.3422). It was originally introduced by Cory Gardner (R-Co).
On Wednesday July 22, the U.S. House of Representatives, where 81 Republicans joined 229 Democrats, voted to pass the act. This final vote will now send the Great America Outdoors Act to President Trump for his signature, for which he has already expressed his support.
President Trump tweeted early Wednesday before the vote,“We MUST protect our National Parks for our children and grandchildren, and I am calling on the House to pass the Great American Outdoors Act today.” Timing is unclear on when the president is expected to sign it, but the bill could become law within the next several days.
The legislation is being hailed as one of the most important environmental bills to pass in decades — securing definitive funding for both the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and the Restore Our Parks Act. The LWCF is the likely most important source of federal funding to create and develop things like local parks, trails, boat launches, sports fields, other recreation areas and park infrastructure.
Under the act, LWCF will receive $900 million annually by way of offshore oil and gas revenues, meaning the money will not be coming out of the taxpayer’s pocket.
The Great American Outdoors Act will also help fund the repair of deteriorating infrastructure in public lands, hopefully allowing more Americans to access and enjoy them. During a time when COVID-19 cases only continue to rise in most parts of the country, occasional time spent outdoors with the opportunity for social distancing is more necessary than ever.
In fact, a recent National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA) poll found that 83 percent of U.S. adults agree that visiting their local parks, trails and open spaces is essential when it comes to their mental and physical well-being during the pandemic.