WASHINGTON—The Pew Charitable Trusts commends the U.S. House of Representatives for approving the Great American Outdoors Act today. This bipartisan legislation, which the Senate passed on June 17, will provide the largest investment in the nation’s parks and public lands since 1956 and will help address critical repair needs within the National Park Service (NPS) and other public land agencies. The act also permanently funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a congressionally established program to preserve irreplaceable lands, urban parks, and recreation facilities for hundreds of millions of Americans.
Marcia Argust, who directs Pew’s campaign to restore America’s parks, issued the following statement:
“The Great American Outdoors Act is one of the most significant pieces of legislation for our National Park System in nearly 65 years. Once signed by the president, it will enable rangers to tackle serious repairs at the 400-plus sites the park service is responsible for maintaining in urban and rural areas across the country.
“For decades, park facilities and historic assets have been deteriorating as a result of age and inconsistent annual funding, and the park service has had to triage limited resources. Now the Great American Outdoors Act will give the park service a tremendous boost, enabling the agency to catch up with long-overdue repairs.
“Crumbling historic structures and battlefields, eroding roads and trails, and outdated campgrounds and electrical and water systems are just some of the problems that need to be addressed. By restoring the integrity of our park sites and public lands, the Great American Outdoors Act will preserve our nation’s history, protect visitor access and safety, and prevent repairs from becoming more costly.
“Equally important, the legislation will support local communities that depend on park tourism for their livelihoods. Park visitors contribute over $40 billion to the nation’s economy each year and generate over 340,000 jobs, part of a recreation economy that as a whole generates over 5.2 million American jobs. The legislation will sustain these jobs and create new ones.
“The investment from the Great American Outdoors Act will benefit not only today’s visitors to our parks and public lands but also future generations. Whether we’re documenting American history at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park in Atlanta, exploring a natural wonder like the Grand Canyon in Arizona, hiking among the towering trees at Sequoia and Kings Canyon in California, or celebrating our right to free speech along the National Mall in Washington, D.C., this legislation will make a lasting difference.
“Pew looks forward to the president quickly signing this bipartisan legislation into law.”
More information on deferred maintenance in national parks is available at pewtrusts.org/restore-americas-parks.