Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, applauded the signing into law of his Great American Outdoors Act. The legislation, which provides full and permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and addresses the approximately $20 billion deferred maintenance backlog in our Country’s public lands, passed the U.S. Senate with a vote of 73-25 on June 17th and passed the U.S. House of Representatives with a vote of 310-107 on July 22nd.
“I was proud to see President Trump sign my bipartisan Great American Outdoors Act into law. This legislation is an important reminder that when we work in a bipartisan way, the American people come out on top. Full and permanent funding for the LWCF is critical so our land management agencies can continue their legacy of conservation and growing opportunities for outdoor recreation. Addressing the daunting deferred maintenance needs of our national parks, forests, and other Federal lands is long overdue and will ensure all of our public land management agencies can operate fully to maintain and protect the public lands we all cherish. This is truly a historic conservation victory and will ensure that America’s treasured public lands are preserved for generations to come,” Ranking Member Manchin said.
Senator Manchin has been a long-time advocate of the LWCF and, in February 2019, led the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act through the Senate, which permanently authorized LWCF. Since 1965, about $19 billion of LWCF funds have been appropriated, leaving about $22 billion of the revenues that have accrued in the Fund unappropriated. Further, the program has only been fully funded twice in its history. Senator Manchin’s Great American Outdoors Act would provide the full $900 million for the Fund every year going forward.
The Great American Outdoors Act also provides significant funding to address the deferred maintenance needs on Federal lands. The legislation would provide $9.5 billion over 5 years for the NPS, USFS, BLM, USFWS, and Bureau of Indian Education maintenance backlog. The current maintenance backlog is over $20 billion.
This bill will also serve as a much needed stimulus to combat the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Investing in deferred maintenance projects would create more than 110,000 infrastructure related jobs. Also, a new analysis from Boston University found that at full funding of $900 million, the LWCF could support an additional approximately 15,000 to 28,000 jobs each year.