The Great American Outdoors Act: A big win for wildlife, public lands, and the economy

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed the Great American Outdoors Act, previously passed by the Senate on June 17.  The bill will now move to the President’s desk for signature into law.

Passage of the Great American Outdoors Act is a huge win for Mississippi sportsmen and women, and everyone who enjoys spending time on America’s public lands. The bipartisan Act will provide permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and provide money to address maintenance projects at national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, and other public lands.

 “Passage of this legislation is a monumental victory for conservation and the continued management and enjoyment of public lands and waters. Funding from this bill will ensure our publicly entrusted wildlife resources will endure for future generations,” said Ashlee Ellis Smith, CEO of the Mississippi Wildlife Federation. “While our state is suffering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, this funding will help provide healing and restoration opportunities by expanding access to outdoor recreation and creating much-needed jobs.” 

“Passing the Great American Outdoors Act is quite simply the most significant investment in conservation in decades.  It’s a huge win for wildlife, our natural treasures, our economy, and all Americans, who enjoy our America’s public lands for solace, recreation, and exercise, especially amid this pandemic,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “The Great American Outdoors Act shows us once again that investing in our public lands and waters is a rare issue that transcends partisan politics. All Americans will benefit from this historic legislation, which will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, expand outdoor recreation opportunities in every community, and accelerate our nation’s economic recovery from COVID-19.” 

The Land and Water Conservation Fund has created and maintained local, state and national parks, hiking and biking trails, hunting and fishing access, and much more for over five decades. Last year Congress permanently reauthorized this successful conservation program. The Great American Outdoors Act provides full and permanent funding for it. Over the years, Mississippi has received over $152 million from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to support such places as the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge and the Gulf Islands National Seashore. The fund also boosts Mississippi’s outdoor recreation economy which generates $8 billion annually in consumer spending and supports more than 79,000 jobs in our state.