REI Statement on Passage of The Great American Outdoors Act
Jun 18, 2020
REI Co-op applauds the June 17 passing of the Great American Outdoors (GAO) Act by a resounding 73-25 bipartisan vote in the U.S. Senate.
The Great American Outdoors Act ends a history of underfunding the Land and Water Conservation Fund and not addressing the maintenance backlog on federal public lands - efforts that have been attempted in the past and have been unable to move through the legislative process. It provides $9.5 billion to address that backlog, and $900 million annually for the LWCF.
This legislation will help dramatically reduce the growing maintenance backlog on federal public lands and will – for the first time -- provide full and consistent funding for the LWCF’s conservation and recreation goals.
“The Great American Outdoors Act is historic legislation that will provide more high-quality and more equitable access to outdoor recreation across the county, make a strong investment in our public lands, and provide full funding for the LWCF,” said REI Co-op President and CEO Eric Artz. “I applaud the bipartisan leadership for its commitment to passing this vital legislation and remaining united outside.”
Not only is outdoor recreation a major driver of the U.S. economy, but a growing body of research indicates that time spent outside has direct benefits on human physical, mental and emotional well-being. Those benefits need to be made available for all, and this bill will make tremendous progress towards that goal. For these reasons and more, REI believes has worked for years with elected officials on both sides of the aisle on legislation that protects our public lands and creates access to the outdoors across the nation.
REI is a specialty outdoor retailer, headquartered near Seattle. The nation’s largest consumer co-op, REI is a growing community of more than 19 million members who expect and love the best quality gear, inspiring expert classes and trips, and outstanding customer service. REI has 168 locations in 39 states and the District of Columbia. If you can’t visit a store, you can shop at REI.com, REI Outlet or the REI shopping app. REI isn’t just about gear. Adventurers can take the trip of a lifetime with REI’s active adventure travel company, a global leader that runs more than 200 itineraries across all continents. In every community where REI has a presence, professionally trained instructors share their expertise by hosting beginner-to advanced-level classes and workshops about a wide range of activities. To build on the infrastructure that makes life outside possible, REI invests millions annually in hundreds of local and national nonprofits that create access to—and steward—the outdoor places that inspire us all.