Press Release: Congress passes Great American Outdoors Act

- Blog
Photo credit: Alejandro Barba

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 22, 2020

CONTACT: Megan Nann, 206-274-2910 x2, megan@walandtrusts.org

Washington Association of Land Trusts applauds Congressional passage of Great American Outdoors Act 


Seattle, WA —Earlier today, the Great American Outdoors Act (S.B. 3422/H.R. 7092) passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 310 to 107.  The Great American Outdoors Act represents a landmark piece of legislation that includes permanent, dedicated funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) at $900 million annually, as well as up to $9.5 billion dedicated towards deferred maintenance on federal public lands.

Created through the efforts of longtime U.S. Senator from Washington State, Henry “Scoop” Jackson, LWCF is a program that has collected a small portion of offshore oil and gas royalties to help protect, preserve, and restore valuable open space across the country for over 50 years. In Washington State, LWCF has helped protect iconic landmarks such as Mount Rainier National Park, Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve, the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, and the Pacific Crest Trail. However, since its inception, LWCF has seen billions of dollars diverted to other uses over the life of the program. The Great American Outdoors Act ensures these funds will go towards their intended conservation purposes.

Senator Patty Murray (D-Wa.) and Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wa.) cosponsored the Senate version of the GAOA, and it received bi-partisan support among Washington’s Representatives, including Suzan DelBene (D-Wa.), Rick Larsen (D-Wa.), Jaime Herrera-Beutler (R-Wa.), Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-Wa.),  Derek Kilmer (D-Wa.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wa.), Kim Schrier (D-Wa.), Adam Smith (D-Wa.), and Denny Heck (D-Wa.). 

“The Land and Water Conservation Fund is the cornerstone of environmental conservation and has helped to preserve Washington state’s public lands as well as Puget Sound’s estuaries, rivers and streams” said Representative Rick Larsen.

“We are so grateful to see bipartisan support for this historic piece of legislation among Washington’s congressional delegation. ” said Nicholas Norton, the Executive Director of the Washington Association of Land Trusts (WALT). “This speaks to the incredible grassroots support for LWCF among nonprofits, businesses, recreationalists, and local elected officials across our great state. Many of these stakeholders have worked for years to help tell the local stories of why conservation funding matters for our economy and quality of life, and it wouldn’t have happened with them.”

It is hard to overstate the significance of this legislative victory for communities across the country, for the future health of Washington’s lands and waters, and for future generations in our state. The outdoor recreation economy is one of Washington’s most vibrant sectors, and nearly all of our most visited parks and public lands have utilized LWCF funding to ensure they will continue to capture our imaginations.

Every year, LWCF and the programs it supports help our land trust members and their partners secure vital conservation victories, whether it is with local parks funding that comes through the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership Program, protect our at-risk working forestlands through the Forest Legacy Program, or securing vital habitat through the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund.

The passage of the Great American Outdoors Act makes good on an old promise to establish a lasting conservation legacy for future generations. In a year that has challenged all us in different ways, this is a moment worth celebrating.



About the Washington Association of Land Trusts


The Washington Association of Land Trusts (WALT), formed in 2007, is a statewide coalition of 32 nonprofit land trust organizations working to permanently protect Washington’s lands and waters through voluntary, cooperative conservation.

Across the state, land trusts protect the land base that sustains the cornerstones of our environment, quality of life, and economy – our salmon-spawning streams and rivers, Puget Sound shorelines, productive forests and farmland, wildlife corridors and refuges, trails and parkland. WALT’s member land trusts have deep connections to local communities and economies and a proven ability to protect land with critical conservation values.

 WALT represents the collective voice of its members and is committed to strengthening their ability to conserve precious lands for future generations through advocacy, education, and communications.

For more information about WALT, visit www.walandtrusts.org.