June 18, 2020
The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies is pleased to see passage of the Great American Outdoors Act (S. 3422) through the full Senate yesterday, with a majority vote of 73-25. This historic bipartisan conservation legislation would support State recreation and parks programs, facilitate public access to outdoor recreation on state and federal public lands, and help rebuild much needed federal infrastructure that supports hunting, fishing, boating, and other aspects of the outdoor recreation economy.
“The Great American Outdoors Act represents a great commitment to increasing conservation and public access to the outdoors,” said Secretary Kelly Hepler of South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks and President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. “Today, more than ever, our citizens need outdoor recreation opportunities that benefit their mental and physical health and well-being. The Association wishes to thank the Senate for working together to pass an important bipartisan piece of conservation legislation that will benefit our citizens and future generations of outdoor enthusiasts.”
This legislation would allocate billions to support outdoor recreation. First, it will provide $9.5 billion over the next five years to help the National Park Service and other federal land-management agencies address their maintenance backlogs. Second, it will provide full and permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), widely considered the nation’s single best funding tool for outdoor recreation, at $900 million annually.
On June 4, a companion bill to the Great American Outdoors Act (H.R. 7092) was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-SC) and approximately a dozen other cosponsors. Since introduction, H.R. 7092 has accumulated 64 bipartisan cosponsors. The Association looks forward to continuing to work with our conservation partners and members of the House of Representatives to expeditiously bring the Great American Outdoors Act to the House floor for immediate passage.
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.