Action Alert: Great American Outdoors Act

March 19, 2020 | by National Deer Alliance

In a huge win for conservation, United States Senators from both sides of the aisle recently announced that President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have vowed to support bipartisan legislation to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

Senate Bill 3422, or the Great American Outdoors Act, will "provide full and permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and address the $12 billion maintenance backlog in our national parks," according to Senator Gardner. Essentially, the new bill will combine two previous bills: S.1081, the Land and Water Conservation Fund Permanent Funding Act and S.500, the Restore Our Parks Act.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund, created in 1965, provides funding for land and water conservation, outdoor recreation and historic preservation projects. The Fund is not tax-funded; rather, it's funded by royalties collected from offshore oil and gas operations. The Great American Outdoors Act will ensure that the LWCF will be fully funded at $900 million annually for the first time in the Fund's history. For reference, the Fund is slated to receive $495 million this year - the highest allocation in the last 17 years.

Additionally, the new legislation will provide funding for the nearly $12 billion maintenance backlog currently faced on our public lands. The Great American Outdoors Act will dedicate $9.5 billion to restore public land infrastructure over a period of five years, with the National Park Service (NPS) receiving 70% of these funds. Other federal agencies, such as the US Forest Service (USFS), US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will receive most of the remainder.

The National Deer Alliance (NDA) outlines wild deer conservation, sportsmen access and state and federal land management as top priority areas. "This new, bipartisan legislation will ensure that our nation's public lands remain intact, well-managed and open to hunting, fishing and other outdoor pursuits," said Torin Miller, NDA's policy and outreach coordinator. "We're hopeful that the Administration, Congress and others will continue to work together to ensure permanent funding at the highest level for the LWCF and our public lands' maintenance backlog."

Join NDA in supporting legislation that fully funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund and tackles the huge maintenance backlog currently faced on our public lands. Urge your Senators to get up-to-speed on the bill and to support funding for conservation projects, public lands and outdoor recreation. Visit the NDA Grassroots Advocacy Center, where you can place your vote of support on the bill and directly email your state Senators to express your support.