July 23, 2020
The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies applauds the final passage of The Great American Outdoors Act (H.R. 1957) through the full House of Representatives yesterday by a vote of 310-107. This bipartisan legislation is historic for conservation, supporting state recreation and parks programs, increasing outdoor recreational access for the public, and rebuilding critical federal infrastructure for hunters, anglers, and outdoor enthusiasts.
“This landmark legislation recognizes the need for increased conservation funding and recreational opportunities as the public is relying on the outdoors more than ever,” said Secretary Kelly Hepler of South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks and President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. “The Land and Water Conservation Fund is one of the best funding tools for outdoor recreation, and this will create jobs by addressing the deferred maintenance backlog for federal recreation infrastructure, as well as through the State-side programs of the Land and Water Conservation Fund in the future. The Association thanks the House and Senate for their bipartisan dedication to conservation.”
The bill will provide billions to support public access, outdoor recreation, and the outdoor recreation economy. It provides permanent, dedicated funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund at $900 million annually, increasing recreational opportunities and access for the public. Critically, it addresses the maintenance backlog on land managed by the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies, allocating $9.5 billion over the next five years to rebuild federal infrastructure vital to outdoor enthusiasts.
The Great American Outdoors Act previously passed the full Senate on June 17 by a vote of 73-25, and now awaits the President’s signature for enactment.
The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies represents North America’s fish and wildlife agencies to advance sound, science-based management and conservation of fish and wildlife and their habitats in the public interest. The Association represents its state agency members on Capitol Hill and before the Administration to advance favorable fish and wildlife conservation policy and funding and works to ensure that all entities work collaboratively on the most important issues. The Association also provides member agencies with coordination services on cross-cutting as well as species-based programs that range from birds, fish habitat and energy development to climate change, wildlife action plans, conservation education, leadership training and international relations. Working together, the Association’s member agencies are ensuring that North American fish and wildlife management has a clear and collective voice.