House Approves Bipartisan Great American Outdoors Act

By Andy Walgamott, Northwest Sportsman:

Hunting and fishing organizations and others are stoked about today’s “historic,” “monumental” passage of the Great American Outdoors Act by a 310-107 vote in the U.S. House of Representatives, sending this “historic” legislation to President Trump for his signature.

Already passed by the Senate 73-25 in June, the bill finally and fully funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund at $900 million annually – a boon for access, recreation, critters and habitat – and provides $9.5 billion over the next five years for maintaining public lands and park infrastructure.

Photo by Mono County Tourism.

Here’s some of what folks are saying:

Ducks Unlimited CEO Adam Putnam:

“Whether you’re an avid conservationist, an outdoor recreation enthusiast, or both, there’s ample reason to appreciate the Great American Outdoors Act. If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that America has some of the best and most vibrant natural scenery you can find anywhere in the world, particularly on our public lands. This bill will help us keep it that way. By addressing the maintenance backlog and fully funding the LWCF, Congress is ensuring these opportunities are available for future generations to enjoy while strengthening our outdoor economy for years to come.”

Kyle Weaver, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation president and CEO

“The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation commends House membership for standing in support of conservation. This measure provides permanent and dedicated funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund which ensures public access to outdoor recreation resources. It also provides money to federal, state and local government entities to purchase land, water and wetlands as a benefit for wildlife and all Americans, as well as much-needed resources to address maintenance and infrastructure issues on federal lands. We now look forward to President Trump following through on his intention to promptly sign this monumental legislation into law.”

Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership:

“Sportsmen and women who have spoken out for years in support of the LWCF and against the chronic underfunding of our conservation agencies should be very proud to be a part of this historic win for public lands, fish and wildlife habitat, and our hunting and fishing access. These issues don’t make the front page every day, which is all the more reason to celebrate the willingness of our lawmakers to prioritize the Great American Outdoors Act with a spirit of urgency and bipartisanship.”

Land Tawney, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers CEO

“Today, we the people made history. Together, we made good on a promise from 1964, permanently dedicating the revenues intended for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and made an overdue investment in some of our most critical fish and wildlife habitat. The Great American Outdoors Act is a momentous achievement in the name of our most prized American landscapes and outdoors legacy. It’s a once in a generation piece of conservation and public access legislation that will have impacts for generations to come.

“Millions of Americans can claim this victory. BHA volunteers and members who made phone calls and sent emails to our elected officials, outdoor advocates who raised their voices, businesses who leveraged their influence, and congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle who worked tirelessly in support of the bill – together we created the momentum that drove this forward, and together we own this moment. Never ever underestimate the power of individual voices. We proved today that democracy is still ruled by the people.”

Collin O’Mara, National Wildlife Federation president, via Twitter

This is quite simply the most significant investment in conservation in decades. A huge win for wildlife, our natural treasures, and all Americans!”

Glenn Hughes, American Sportfishing Association president

“Public lands are critical for providing recreational fishing opportunities throughout the nation. The Great American Outdoors Act will provide long overdue funding to benefit current and future public lands at the local, state and federal levels. Enactment of this historic legislation will benefit recreational fishing, and outdoor recreation in general, for decades to come.”

Tim Brady, Boone and Crockett Club president:

“Our nation’s federal public lands were a gift to all Americans that began through the vision of Theodore Roosevelt, the founder of the Boone and Crockett Club. The Great American Outdoors Act continues this conservation vision providing the commitment not just to conserve important habitat and natural areas, but also to conduct critical maintenance actions on our existing network of lands. This is a landmark conservation action and we greatly appreciate the leadership of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to secure floor action, as well as the bill’s House sponsors Representatives Joe Cunningham (D-SC) and Mike Simpson (R-ID).”

Per a DU press release, “These new investments will boost America’s outdoor recreation industry, which generates $887 billion annually and supports 7.6 million American jobs.”

According to TRCP’s statement, the LWCF ” has conserved land in every U.S. state and supported more than 41,000 state and local park projects.” Full and permanent funding at $900 million – with money coming from offshore gas and oil leases – has never been achieved in its 50-plus-year history, but doing so has been “a major goal of the conservation community.”