In a major win for public lands, President Trump today signed into law the Great American Outdoors Act, which allocates billions of dollars to public lands.
The landmark bill, which received bipartisan support in Congress, provides $900 million annually to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), a program that invests a portion of revenue from offshore energy development into public lands and waters. In the past, the funding has been discretionary, and Congress has diverted, on average, between one-half and two-thirds of LWCF money each year since the program officially began. Until now, it had only been fully funded once since its creation in 1965. The GAOA will make the full funding permanent.
Additionally, the GAOA will allocate $9.5 billion over the next five years to help address the maintenance backlog at national parks, national forests and other public lands. The National Park Service alone faces nearly $12 billion in deferred maintenance, which includes repairs to roads and utility systems, according to the NPS.
To celebrate the passage, David Bernhardt, secretary of the Department of Interior, designated Aug. 4th as Great American Outdoors Day. Entrance to national parks and other public lands will be free on this day.
To learn more about the bill’s history and its significance, read the Co-op Journal’s previous coverage: