WASHINGTON – One year ago, amid a tense election season, deep polarization and a global pandemic, leadership from both aisles of Congress came together to protect America’s natural heritage. The Great American Outdoors Act, which was signed into law by former President Donald Trump, secured permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) at $900 million annually and set aside $9.5 billion over five years to update America’s aging public lands infrastructure.
LWCF is a critical framework for protecting endangered species, conserving key habitats and stemming the biodiversity crisis. The fund provides an important source of money for state and local parks and has been used to conserve more than 15 million acres of land -- an area roughly the size of West Virginia -- across the country over the past 55 years.
Environment America has prioritized LWCF, America’s best conservation and recreation program, for years. To urge lawmakers to invest in America’s great outdoors, the environmental advocacy group passed out LWCF face masks to lawmakers, created lawn signs and banners, wrote a steady series of op-eds and served as a continual presence on Capitol Hill and in congressional districts.
In response to the Great American Outdoor Act’s one year anniversary, Environment America Conservation Advocate Alex Petersen released the following statement:
“One year after being signed into law, the Great American Outdoors Act has been a sweeping victory for the United States’ lands, wildlife and communities. This once-in-a-generation conservation law has allowed us to protect endangered habitats and secure the public’s access to our country’s breathtaking natural treasures.
“The funding made available through this landmark conservation law is now being used for hundreds of exciting new projects. Across the country, the funds have supported everything from adding 197 acres to the Ice Age National Scenic Trail in Wisconsin to expanding the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge in Florida so there is more habitat for endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers, wood storks and frosted flatwoods salamanders.
"Next up, Congress should consider building on this bipartisan consensus around protecting our beautiful outdoor spaces by working both to reconnect habitat with wildlife corridors and to fund state wildlife action plans for species of greatest conservation need. We need more nature in this country, and the Great American Outdoors Act is playing a crucial role in making that happen.”
Environment America is a national network of 29 state environmental groups. Our staff work
together for clean air, clean water, clean energy, wildlife and open spaces, and a livable climate. Our members across the United States put grassroots support behind our research and advocacy. Environment America is part of The Public Interest Network, which operates and supports organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world and a strategic approach to getting things done.