Photo of a path in a forest in autumn colors.
autumn color in forest (ALL INTERNAL RIGHTS & LIMITED EXTERNAL RIGHTS) October 2015. A view of Jesup Path with autumnal colors in the trees in Acadia National Park, Maine. The park service and vistor's celebrate 100 years of parks in August 2016. Photo credit: © Nick Hall © Nick Hall

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House Lawmakers Introduce Great American Outdoors Act

Bill would fully fund Land and Water Conservation Fund and boost national park maintenance.

A bipartisan group of 12 members of the U.S. House of Representatives today introduced the Great American Outdoors Act. The bill, which matches companion legislation the U.S. Senate will take up this month, would create jobs and bolster local economies through conservation and maintenance work on public lands.

“The Great American Outdoors Act is the conservation investment our country needs, creating jobs and boosting local economies by enhancing treasured natural spaces,” said Tom Cors, director of government relations for lands at The Nature Conservancy. “As the last few months have demonstrated, nature plays a vital role in our emotional and economic well-being. The investments in this bill will protect important landscapes, expand outdoor recreation opportunities nationwide and ensure our great outdoors and the communities it supports will be ready for generations of visitors to come.”

The broad, bipartisan support for the bill shows widespread understanding that conservation is a part of the solution for the challenges we face.

Director of Government Relations for Lands, The Nature Conservancy

“The broad, bipartisan support for the bill shows widespread understanding that conservation is a part of the solution for the challenges we face.” Cors said. “We urge lawmakers to continue working together to finalize this much-needed investment in our communities and our natural world."

The bill combines two conservation proposals that each have strong, bipartisan support. The first would provide full and permanent funding of $900 million each year for the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), the amount it is authorized to receive from offshore oil and gas revenues – not tax dollars. The second part of the bill would invest $1.9 billion annually for the next five years toward maintenance in national parks and other public lands.

For more than 50 years, LWCF has been used to protect places in every state in the nation ranging from national parks to historic battlefields to local ballfields. A just-released economic analysis shows that every $1 million invested in LWCF could support between 16.8 and 30.8 jobs. Additionally, research on the impact of LWCF shows that $1 spent generates $4 in economic value from natural resource goods and services alone.

The Senate’s Great American Outdoors Act was introduced in March and so far has 59 co-sponsors, a majority of the chamber.

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.