The Outdoor Journal by Kyle Carroll
You may not have heard of the Great American Outdoors Act, but congress recently passed it into law on July 22 by an overwhelming 310-107 margin. (Congressman Sam Graves voted against it.) Most indications are that President Trump will sign the bill. President Trump tweeted his support and had called on Congress to pass the bill. Although the timing is unclear, he is expected to sign it, and the bill could become law within the next several days.
The GAOA was supported by a wide variety of organizations like Back Country Hunters and Anglers and the National Parks and Conservation Association, that saw the need to address the back log of maintenance issues on National Parks and other public lands, as well as a dedicated funding for more fishing access sites, easements to inaccessible public lands, repairs and maintenance of park service buildings and roads to name a few.
The legislation includes components from two previous bills, the Restore Our Parks Act and the Land and Water Conservation Fund Permanent Funding Act.
Congress created the Land and Water Conservation Fund in 1965, but the program has only been fully funded once at the $900 million annual amount originally authorized by legislators. Today’s bill would allocate the full $900 million to this conservation program each year in perpetuity. If signed into law as expected, this funding will play an enormous role in protecting the integrity of our public lands for generations to come.