Momentum Builds in Support of the Great American Outdoors Act
The Forest Society joins a broad coalition of groups representing state and regional tourism, local businesses, veterans groups, engineering and planning firms, conservation organizations, and the outdoor recreation industry calling for Congress to pass the Great American Outdoors Act (S. 3422) (GAOA).
S. 3422 has two important natural resource benefits. First, it will also fully and permanently dedicate $900 million per year into the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Second, it will help address priority repairs in our national parks and on other public lands by directing up to $9.5 billion over five years to address maintenance needs within the National Park System, other public land agencies, and Bureau of Indian Education schools.
This legislation was introduced on March 9 and quickly garnered strong bipartisan support in the U.S. Senate. Both Senator Maggie Hassan and Senator Jeanne Shaheen are co-sponsors. The bill also appeared to be poised for passage in the Senate until the Covid-19 pandemic upended the Congressional schedule.
However, support for the Great American Outdoors Act remains strong both inside and outside Congress and the Senate is due to weigh in on the bill soon. A letter from 118 members of the U.S. House of Representatives to Congressional leaders illustrates the level of this support. Both Representative Pappas and Representative Kuster signed the letter.
Here are two broad points you can share with our Congressional delegation:
- As we have seen from the increased crowd levels at many of the hiking areas in New Hampshire, the Covid-19 crisis has demonstrated that people want to connect with nature.
- Outdoor recreation is an important part of a vibrant economy. The Outdoor Industry Association notes that this sector generates 79,000 direct jobs in New Hampshire and 8.7 billion dollars in consumer spending. As Congress considers measures to assist the country heal from the pandemic’s damaging effects, increased investments in the protection of our natural resources should be a part of this economic recovery.