05.11.20

More Than 800 Conservation Groups Call on Congress to Pass Gardner and Manchin’s Great American Outdoors Act

Washington, D.C. – More than 800 conservation groups sent a letter to congressional leadership supporting the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act, introduced by U.S. Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Steve Daines (R-MT), Rob Portman (R-OH), Mark Warner (D-VA), Angus King (I-ME), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Richard Burr (R-NC), which would provide full and permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and address the approximately $20 billion maintenance backlog on our country’s public lands. Gardner secured President Trump’s support for the legislation in March.

“Conservationists in Colorado and all across our country know the Great American Outdoors Act is a historic opportunity to protect the public lands we all cherish,” said Senator Gardner. “We’ve worked hard to secure broad, bipartisan support for this bill, which is reflected in the letter of support from more than 800 conservation groups. Congress should hear their call and pass the Great American Outdoors Act to create immediate job opportunities, further allow the outdoor recreation community to contribute to the economy, and protect our public lands for future generations to cherish.”

"I am thrilled to see more than 850 outdoors, sportsman and conservation groups from across the United States join forces to urge Congressional leadership to pass the Great American Outdoors Act. This important, bipartisan legislation permanently funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund and addresses the maintenance backlog plaguing our national parks and treasured public lands. This outpouring of support from groups both large and small is evidence of the positive impact this bill will have on communities across the country with the ability to create jobs and reinvest in local economies. I join them in urging our leadership to bring up the Great America Outdoors Act," said Senator Manchin.

“Our organizations, and the members we represent, strongly support passage and subsequent enactment of the Great American Outdoors Act (S. 3422) as quickly as possible. This bill is necessary to support the public lands we all rely upon by achieving the twin goals of protecting America’s special places and repairing deteriorating infrastructure,” wrote the conservation leaders. “This legislation was introduced on March 9 and has the strong bipartisan support of a majority of the Senate. It is consistent with legislation supported by a surpassing bipartisan majority in the House, and the President has specifically requested this bill for his signature, creating an unprecedented opportunity for a historic win for the American public and the places they care about.”

In April, members of the Colorado congressional delegation called on congressional leadership to consider Gardner’s Great American Outdoors Act in future COVID-19-related legislation.

The full text of the letter is available here and below:

Dear Majority Leader McConnell, Speaker Pelosi, Minority Leader Schumer, and Minority Leader McCarthy:

Our organizations, and the members we represent, strongly support passage and subsequent enactment of the Great American Outdoors Act (S. 3422) as quickly as possible. This bill is necessary to support the public lands we all rely upon by achieving the twin goals of protecting America’s special places and repairing deteriorating infrastructure. We urge you to vote in favor of this crucial legislation and to oppose any amendments to it.

The bill will help address priority repairs in our national parks and on other public lands by directing up to $9.5 billion over five years to address maintenance needs within the National Park System, other public land agencies, and Bureau of Indian Education schools. It will also fully and, permanently dedicate $900 million per year already being deposited into the Land and Water Conservation Fund, our nation’s most important conservation program, to ensure protection of and access to irreplaceable lands and local recreation opportunities.  

This legislation was introduced on March 9 and has the strong bipartisan support of a majority of the Senate. It is consistent with legislation supported by a surpassing bipartisan majority in the House, and the President has specifically requested this bill for his signature, creating an unprecedented opportunity for a historic win for the American public and the places they care about. 

The Great American Outdoors Act will ensure a future for nature to thrive, kids to play, and hunters and anglers to enjoy. National parks and public lands provide access to the outdoors for hundreds of millions of people every year and habitat for some of our country’s most iconic wildlife. These treasured places also tell the stories that define and unite us as a nation. Funds provided in this bill will secure these vital resources while preserving water quantity and quality, sustaining working landscapes and rural economies, increasing access for recreation for all Americans no matter where they live, and fueling the juggernaut of our outdoor economy.

In 2018, over 318 million national park visits led to $20.2 billion in direct spending at hotels,

restaurants, outfitters, and other amenities in gateway communities, supporting over 329,000 jobs and generating over $40.1 billion in total economic output. Nationally, outdoor recreation contributes $778 billion in consumer spending and supports 5.2 million jobs.  

The Great American Outdoors Act will ensure that our parks and other public lands continue to preserve our nation’s heritage and recreation opportunities, and that local communities and economies in these areas will continue to flourish.

We urge you to support our parks and public lands by voting for the Great American Outdoors Act (S. 3422) as a clean bill with no amendments. Thank you for considering this request.

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Cory Gardner is a member of the U.S. Senate serving Colorado. He sits on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy.