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Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park © NPS/Victoria Stauffenberg

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Great American Outdoors Act Would Protect and Restore America’s Public Lands

New Legislation Introduced with Strong Bipartisan Support Would Fully Fund the LWCF and Address Maintenance Backlog in National Parks

Arlington, Va.

A bipartisan group of 56 U.S. senators – a majority of the U.S. Senate – has introduced the Great American Outdoors Act, which would fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and restore national parks by helping address the backlog of maintenance needs.

“Passing this bill would be as historic for conservation and outdoor recreation as the original passage of LWCF 56 years ago,” said The Nature Conservancy’s Interim CEO Sally Jewell. “I have been to national parks and other public lands in every state. These are places of respite, and places that we can all go to celebrate our history, our culture, our challenges and our triumphs. They are places I go with my grandchildren now to help them understand what a gift we have in our public lands, and I’m glad to see Congress act to preserve that gift for future generations.”

The Great American Outdoors Act combines two previous bills that each have strong bipartisan support from more than half of Congress. The first would provide full and permanent funding of $900 million each year for LWCF, the amount it is authorized to receive from offshore oil and gas revenues – not tax dollars. It has been used for more than 50 years to protect places in every state in the nation ranging from national parks to historic battlefields to local ballfields. The second, the Restore Our Parks Act, would invest $1.9 billion annually for the next five years in deferred maintenance for lands managed by the National Park Service, USDA Forest Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Indian Education.

The bill, S. 3422, was introduced by Sens. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Steve Daines, R-Mont., Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Mark Warner, D-Va., Angus King, I-Maine, Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Richard Burr, R-N.C.

“I can’t thank these Senate leaders enough for moving this historic legislation forward at such a critical time for our planet,” concluded Jewell. “It is extraordinary in these times to see the kind of bipartisan cooperation that this bill represents, and it is something everyone can be proud to support. This is the result of tireless work for years from these legislative champions and many others, and I share their hope that we can pass this bill exactly as it is.”

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 79 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.