America’s public lands received its greatest boost in decades this morning when President Trump signed the Great American Outdoors Act into law. This historic Act will provide billions of dollars for public lands projects ranging from landscape preservation to infrastructure improvements.
The Act is the single largest investment in America’s national parks and public lands in history, and marks the most significant conservation accomplishment since the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt.
The Great American Outdoors Act provides full, permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and creates a Restoration Fund to address the deferred maintenance needs of federal public lands. Funding LWCF at its fully authorized level — $900 million a year — will double what was available in 2019 for states, municipalities and the federal government to conserve land for recreation and wildlife habitats. The Appalachian Trail (A.T.) as we know it would not exist without the support of the LWCF, which has helped protect such varied locations as Blood Mountain in Georgia, the Roan Highlands of Tennessee and North Carolina, the Cumberland Valley of Pennsylvania and community forests throughout New Hampshire and Vermont.
The Restoration Fund will make available $9.5 billion over five years, with $6 billion slated for National Park System units, about $1.4 billion slated for National Forest System units, and $475 million for National Wildlife Refuges. Across all its public lands, the United States has a deferred maintenance backlog of $20 billion. According to the President more than 5,500 miles of road, 17,000 miles of trails, and 24,000 buildings are in critical need of repair. Its estimated that the Great American Outdoors Act will create over 100,000 additional infrastructure-related jobs.
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