WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate voted on Monday to end debate on the Great American Outdoors Act, a bipartisan bill to permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) at $900 million annually and provide $9.5 billion over five years to fix maintenance problems that are plaguing America’s public lands. The “cloture” vote on the bill introduced by Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) passed the Senate with a vote of 80-17. We expect a final vote on the Senate floor later this week.
Alongside conservation groups, hunting and fishing groups, outdoor recreation businesses, and more, Environment America has prioritized the LWCF, America’s best conservation and recreation program. Utilizing billboards in several states; lawn signs and banners; a steady series of op-eds; and a continual presence on Capitol Hill and in congressional districts, we have pushed legislators to make the LWCF a more effective tool for protecting the beautiful public lands that enrich so many lives.
In response to the vote in the Senate, Environment America’s Acting President Wendy Wendlandt released the following statement:
“We’re a step closer to finally, fully funding America’s best conservation and recreation program. This bill is a big deal -- it’s $900 million a year, plus a short-term infusion of money to fix the maintenance issues that keep Americans from fully enjoying our public lands.”
“From local parks and hiking trails to national forests and parks, American’s love their public lands. The Senate’s decision to bring this to the floor couldn’t come at a more crucial moment. As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic drags on, people are increasingly looking towards the outdoors for their physical and mental health.
“Since President Lyndon Johnson put his signature on the Land and Water Conservation Fund legislation in 1964, it has funded projects in all 50 states and every county in the United States. While it has received more than $40 billion, it’s troubling that more than half of those funds have been diverted away from the program. The Great American Outdoor Act puts a lock and key on money that truly is intended for conservation projects.
“We urge Senators to keep pushing for final passage of this important bill, and we urge leaders in the House to take up and approve this conservation measure as soon as possible.