Great American Outdoors Act Passes Both the House and Senate

July 23, 2020 | by National Deer Alliance

Yesterday, the United States House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly (310-107) to pass the Great American Outdoors Act (S. 3422). The National Deer Alliance (NDA), the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA), and their members played an important role in the passage of this historic legislation that fully funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and tackles the huge maintenance backlog currently faced on our public lands.

“This is a historic victory for conservation and public lands, and we are proud to have partnered with a long list of organizations and our members to help push this important legislation across the finish line,” said Nick Pinizzotto, president and CEO of NDA and QDMA.

Introduced in March by multiple Senators from both sides of the aisle, the Great American Outdoors Act will provide full and permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund at $900 million annually and address the $19 billion maintenance backlog on our public lands. The LWCF, 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 LWCF has provided funding for conservation projects in all 50 states and nearly every county in the United States. The Great American Outdoors Act will ensure that the LWCF will be fully funded at $900 million annually for just the third time in the Fund's half-century history. For reference, the Fund is slated to receive $495 million this year - the highest allocation in the last 17 years.

Additionally, the Great American Outdoors Act will dedicate $9.5 billion to repair and 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.

“Almost every American has had a LWCF project completed close to where they live and recreate, and permanent funding of the program is particularly a big win for deer hunters who often rely on public lands,” said Pinizzotto. “When you consider that about eight out of every 10 people who hunt pursue big game, making sure they have a quality place to go helps to ensure their continued participation, which further fuels wildlife conservation across the country.”

The passage of the Great American Outdoors Act in both the Senate and House of Representatives is a conservation achievement unparalleled in recent decades, and our organizations are celebrating the bill's passage and the hard work of our dedicated members. The bill now heads to President Donald Trump’s desk, and he has vowed on multiple occasions that he would support bipartisan legislation to fully fund the LWCF.