Congressman, River Coalition Cheer Passage Of Great American Outdoors Act
A bill that aims to fund critical infrastructure work at National Parks, refuges, forest, recreation areas, and fund conservation efforts is headed to President Donald Trump’s desk.
House Bill 1957, known as the Great American Outdoors Act, passed the House of Representatives by 310 to 103 on Wednesday. Republican Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick, of Middletown Township, voted for the bill.
The bill, which received bipartisan support, divotes billions in resource extraction on public lands royalties to chip away at the backlog of work at the National Parks Service and give the Land and Water Conservation Fund $900 million each year to invest in projects across the country.
The National Park Service, which polls show is popular among most Americans, faces a $12 billion backlog of projects that it deems are important for its lands.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund was founded in 1964 and helps with conserving land and awards grants to state and local governments for recreation projects. In all its years in existence, the fund has only been fully funded twice.
The Senate passed the Great American Outdoors Act in June and Trump has indicated he will sign it.
The bill does not use taxpayer funds and redirects dollars from natural resource extraction royalty fees paid to the government.
Fitzpatrick has pushed for funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund over the past few years.
“I am thrilled the House has overwhelmingly passed the Great American Outdoors Act. This bipartisan, bicameral, and landmark legislation is the most important conservation package in years, and will do incredible things for our economy, our public lands, and our country. The LWCF is a vital program that protects public lands and contributes millions to our economy, and I am pleased to see that it is now permanently authorized and funded. This landmark package also provides funding to address the large maintenance backlog in our parks, which will allow visitors to enjoy them for years to come. I’d like to thank Members of Congress, advocacy groups, and everyone else who fought hard to see this package head to the President’s desk to become law,” Fitzpatrick said in a statement.
Delaware River Coalition, a network of more than 150 organizations in the Delaware River watershed, cheered the news of the bill passing.
“The Land and Water Conservation Fund has never had stable funding, making the Great American Outdoors Act a welcome, but overdue investment in public lands. The Delaware River Watershed states of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware have all benefited from previous Land and Water Conservation Fund dollars, and we’re excited to see permanent and increased funding flow to our outdoor recreation infrastructure and protect land from development in the watershed,” said Sandra Meola, Director, Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed. “The Delaware River Watershed’s parks and open spaces are a haven for outdoor recreation, from hiking to kayaking to fishing. Preserving these spaces is not only good for our physical and mental well-being, it’s also good for the economy.”