Washington, D.C. July 22, 2020 – Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) today hailed House passage of the Great American Outdoors Act, one of Congress’ most significant investments in environmental conservation in a generation.
The bill – for which Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-S.C.) is the House sponsor – fully funds the successful and popular Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) at $900 million annually, well above its yearly average funding level, and creates the National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund, which will provide funding to the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Indian Education to fix buildings, trails, roads and other public infrastructure in need of repair for the next five years.
“This is a win for the country and for Arizona. We’re going to start seeing the benefits sooner than people think,” Chair Grijalva said today. “This is truly an investment in our children, our environment and our quality of life, and that’s why we’re seeing such bipartisan support in Congress. With climate change advancing around the country, this couldn’t come at a better time, and I’m proud to join the many millions of Americans cheering today’s passage of a bill that will protect our great outdoors and our public lands for generations to come.”
Chair Grijalva’s remarks on the House floor can be viewed at https://youtu.be/M9T3Gn9Qy-M.
Chair Grijalva has championed both permanent authorization of and full funding for LWCF for many years, and introduced H.R. 6759 to achieve both goals in 2018. Today’s vote marks the culmination of years of effort by Chair Grijalva and a large network of colleagues and advocates to achieve LWCF’s full promise.
The funding is tied to royalties derived from energy extraction on public lands and waters. More information about how the bill’s funding mechanisms work and how money will be distributed per year is available in a Natural Resources Committee fact sheet at https://bit.ly/3hnhORH.
LWCF is used each year to enhance and establish local, state and national preservation areas. LWCF funds everything from local playgrounds to national park expansions and is one of the country’s most popular conservation programs.
Protecting public lands and preserving natural wildlife habitats is now more important than ever. Temperatures have increased about 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, and the United Nations recently found that human activities threaten 1 million plants and animals with extinction.
An expanded LWCF will, among other things, mean more opportunities to preserve green spaces in currently low income and park-poor communities. The Great American Outdoors Act advances the cause of environmental justice by giving community planners more resources to improve outdoor access for underserved children and families unaccustomed to outdoor activities.
More information about state-by-state LWCF impacts is available at https://www.lwcfcoalition.com/map-of-lwcf.