President Trump signed the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) this morning.
The House and Senate passed GAOA in a bipartisan agreement. The new legislation makes new commitments for environmental protection in the most sacred corners of the North American continent.
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What to Know
- Trump signed the Great American Outdoors Act today
- The House and Senate passed it in a bipartisan agreement
- The GAOA accomplishes two goals.
- $9 billion for deferred maintenance
- Guaranteed $900 million annually in perpetuity for the Land and Water Conservation Fund
- The fund also supports the National Parks Service, Forest Service, U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Bureau of Indian Education
Why it Matters
- The GAOA will help maintain NPS lands that have been loved to death with a 50% increase in visitor rate since the 1980’s
- Conservation does not have to be a partisan issue. The passing of GAOA demonstrates room for common ground when it comes to environmental protection
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National parks need help
Two years ago, I navigated the chaotic roads of Acadia National Park.
With children running every direction, slow-moving traffic, and cars scrambling for parking, I thought – “Am I at an amusement park or a National Park?”.
Visitors are flocking to National Parks at rates 50% higher than the 1980’s. Despite a drastic increase in visitors, the National Parks Systems (NPS) budget remains stagnant.
U.S. National Parks face high foot traffic and low funds.
This makes it more difficult for park rangers and officials to maintain sensitive areas and ensure environmental protection standards.
Basically, American nature-lovers are loving parks ‘to death’ – until now.
Trump signs Great American Outdoor Act
The Congress and the House recently passed The Great American Outdoor Act (GAOA). President Trump signed the bill this morning.
The legislation includes the allocation of a $9 Billion over the next 5-years to assist in $12 Billion of deferred maintenance at National Parks, wildlife refuges, and forests.
GAOA also commits a guaranteed $900 million in perpetuity for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).
It’s important to note that the funding reaches far past the NPS. The Forest Service, U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Bureau of Indian Education will also receive more funding.
The big win stands as the biggest land conservation policy move in a generation. It also comes at a critical time for incumbent candidates as America moves closer to November elections.
There is a lot to be hopeful for as we look towards the future of conservation in an uncertain and polarized political climate.
The overwhelming bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate serves as an example of when political polarization can take a backseat with consideration to conservation efforts.
It also proves the value and appreciation that communities, individuals, and leaders have for their public lands and natural environments despite differences in political beliefs.
Overall, this movement should remind us to search for a common ground in environmental or conservation efforts when it is difficult to find one.
Politicians can and should bridge differences when sharing a common appreciation for Nature. Living in a healthy, happy environment transcends party politics.
Queue America the Beautiful, because there is a lot to celebrate.