HARPERS FERRY, W.Va. (March 9, 2020) – Public lands in the United States loved by millions of outdoor recreationists and nature enthusiasts will receive additional protections under a new act introduced today by the U.S. Senate. The Great American Outdoors Act will fully and permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and provide billions of dollars to deferred maintenance infrastructure projects on public lands.
“The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is excited by the introduction of the Great American Outdoors Act, which will help ensure national treasures like the Appalachian Trail are preserved and maintained for millions of visitors to enjoy and benefit from every year,” said Sandra Marra, President & CEO of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. “We would like to thank Senators Cory Gardner (CO), Joe Manchin III (WV), Mark Warner (VA), Steven Daines (MT) and all of the co-sponsors of this Act for their work to help preserve America’s public lands. We urge the Senate to take up and pass the bill without delay.”
The Great American Outdoors Act will provide full, permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and greatly increase the amount of money available for deferred maintenance projects on public lands like the Appalachian Trail.
The Great American Outdoors Act is a combination of two previous bills designed to permanently fund LWCF — which helps conservation organizations like the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) preserve vital landscapes and wildlife habitats — and address the $20 billion backlog of crumbling roads, bridges and housing needs of the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Wildlife Refuge System and Bureau of Indian Education. The Act will use off-shore oil and gas receipts — not taxpayer dollars — to provide funding for all parts of this legislation.
“With the increasing American population and ecological impacts from climate change, it is more important than ever to conserve lands for recreation, important wildlife habitats and the tourism economies of rural communities,” said Brendan Mysliwiec, Director of Federal Policy and Legislation for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. “Dollars released through the National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund, created by this Act, are essential to meet rising visitation and safety demands on our public lands.”
Almost every state on the Trail is represented in the Act’s original co-sponsorship, and the Conservancy would like to thank them on the A.T.’s behalf: Senators Collins and King (ME), Shaheen and Hassan (NH), Leahy and Sanders (VT), Warren and Markey (MA), Blumenthal and Murphy (CT), Schumer and Gillibrand (NY), Menendez and Booker (NJ), Casey (PA), Cardin and Van Hollen (MD), Capito (WV), Kaine (VA), Burr and Tillis (NC), and Alexander (TN).
About the Appalachian Trail Conservancy
The ATC was founded in 1925 by volunteers and federal officials working to build a continuous footpath along the Appalachian Mountains. A unit of the National Park System, the A.T. ranges from Maine to Georgia and is 2,193 miles in length. It is the longest hiking-only footpath in the world. The mission of the ATC is to preserve and manage the Appalachian Trail – ensuring that its vast natural beauty and priceless cultural heritage can be shared and enjoyed today, tomorrow, and for centuries to come. For more information, please visit www.appalachiantrail.org.
Media Contact: Jordan Bowman
Appalachian Trail Conservancy