Emily Bacha, Vice President of Public Affairs, July 22, 2020
Washington, DC — Today, the Great American Outdoors Act, one of the most important pieces of legislation for America’s public lands in recent history, was passed by the United States House of Representatives.
“Everyone deserves access to nature and quality experiences in the outdoors,” said Nathan Johnson, Public Lands Director for the Ohio Environmental Council (OEC). “The OEC applauds the members of Ohio’s Congressional delegation who voted in favor of the Great American Outdoors Act to invest in and expand our public lands. We thank Senator Rob Portman for leading the effort to address the national parks backlog, as well as Senator Sherrod Brown and Representatives Brad Wenstrup (OH-2), Joyce Beatty (OH-3), Anthony Gonzalez (OH-16), Marcy Kaptur (OH-9), and Steve Stivers (OH-15) for co-sponsoring this and related legislation.”
The Act will ensure full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) every year going forward at $900 million annually. This is a major win for conservation, as Congress has fully funded the LWCF only twice in its more than 50 year history. Additionally, the Great American Outdoors Act incorporates Senator Rob Portman’s bipartisan Restore Our Parks Act, which will provide up to $9.5 billion over five years to help address the more than $20 billion in deferred maintenance backlogs facing our National Parks and other federal public lands. Ohio’s national park sites have a combined maintenance backlog of $114 million.
The LWCF is America’s premier funding resource for the creation and development of public parks in local communities throughout the nation. The LWCF has helped purchase land for Cuyahoga Valley National Park and the Wayne National Forest and has allowed for the creation of local parks, playgrounds, and public pools in nearly all of Ohio’s 88 counties. In Ohio alone, it has provided over $332 million in funding since enacted.