Mountain river in central Idaho.
Central Idaho Mountain River Fresh water flows through the mountains of central Idaho © Robert Sheley

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Senate Approves Great American Outdoors Act

Bipartisan bill fully funds Land and Water Conservation Fund and boosts funds for national park repairs.

Update

July 22, 2020: 
Congress has approved the Great American Outdoors Act.

The U.S. Senate today voted 73-25 to approve the Great American Outdoors Act, which would fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund and make critical investments in our national park system. 

“Today the Senate delivered a historic win for the conservation of America’s natural landscapes,” said Jennifer Morris, chief executive officer at The Nature Conservancy. “This bill would make major investments in the landscapes and landmarks vital to our economic, emotional and societal well-being. By protecting important natural spaces and investing in their care, this bill will help create jobs, rebuild local economies and expand access to the outdoors that everyone has a right to enjoy.”

By protecting important natural spaces and investing in their care, this bill will help create jobs, rebuild local economies and expand access to the outdoors that everyone has a right to enjoy.

Jennifer Morris Chief Executive Officer at The Nature Conservancy

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 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.

The Senate legislation – introduced in March by Sens. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and eight original cosponsors – now heads to the U.S. House of Representatives, where earlier this month, a bipartisan group of 12 House lawmakers introduced matching legislation.

Last year, Congress overwhelmingly approved a sweeping public lands bill that permanently reauthorized LWCF.

“Today's vote puts us one step closer to fulfilling a vision set out by President Kennedy over 50 years ago, to conserve the natural resources that belong to everyone,” said Morris. “The Land and Water Conservation Fund has helped preserve forests, open spaces, watersheds and other landscapes in every state at no cost to the taxpayer. Today’s large, bipartisan vote is an affirmation of the broad support for common-sense, effective investments in America’s outdoors. We thank our many conservation champions for making today’s vote a reality, and we urge the House to quickly follow suit.”

Today’s large, bipartisan vote is an affirmation of the broad support for common-sense, effective investments in America’s outdoors.

Jennifer Morris Chief Executive Officer at The Nature Conservancy

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.