History is made! Congress passes the Great American Outdoors Act

July 22, 2020

Today, the US House of Representatives passed the Great American Outdoors Act with a vote of 310 to 107 (it passed the Senate in June with a 73-25 vote). The great bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate shows the outdoors is something we can all agree on, even in these trying times. The bill now moves to the President, who is expected to sign it into law.

This historic piece of legislation (and YES, too many things are labeled “historic” these days, but we think this one really is!) fully and permanently funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The largest source of conservation funding for many outdoor recreation projects across the country, LWCF is funded entirely through off-shore oil and gas revenues—not tax dollars. That money is invested directly into communities and recreation facilities across the country.

The bill also advances equity in the outdoors. LWCF includes special funding for parks and green spaces in low income urban communities with limited access to such opportunities. One great example of such a project here in Washington is Wenatchee’s Methow Park (which also received a WWRP grant!).

It will also provide a much-needed boost to our economy. Outdoor recreation results in $26.5 billion in consumer spending in Washington, along with 264,000 jobs, resulting in a total annual economic contribution of $40 billion. (Data from preliminary results of a recent pre-COVID19 study conducted by the Recreation & Conservation Office).

The bill also addresses a massive backlog in National Park maintenance, helping fix roads, visitor centers, and facilities (including the $400 million in deferred maintenance at Olympic National Park and Mount Rainier). Funds will also go to the Forest Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and the Bureau of Indian Education.

The Coalition applauds the Washington delegation for their almost unanimous support of this bill, especially Senator Maria Cantwell for her leadership in pushing this issue forward over countless years, as well as Senator Patty Murray and Representatives Suzan DelBene, Rick Larsen, Jaime Herrera Beutler, Derek Kilmer, Pramila Jayapal, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Kim Schrier, Adam Smith, and Denny Heck. This bill will greatly benefit all Washingtonians—indeed all Americans—today and in the future.

Join us in thanking our delegation by using one of these templates (contact information included) or by sending your own personal note.