Senate Passes Great American Outdoors Act to Fund National Parks’ Maintenance Backlog

June 29, 2020 at 2:33 pm

Bill requires oil and renewable energy industries to give half the profits they make on public lands to national parks and land conservation

Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Senate came together in a bipartisan vote to fund a long backlog of maintenance projects in national parks last week.

The Great American Outdoors Act passed 73 to 25. President Trump has agreed to sign it assuming it passes the House of Representatives.

The bill requires half of all oil and renewable energy revenue generated on public lands to be used to fund $20 billion worth of delayed maintenance projects in America’s national parks and public lands.

One lawmaker called it the “single greatest conservation achievement in generations.”

70% of the fund will go to the National Park Service to be used on long-overdue repairs in over 400 historic national parks, including Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and the Statue of Liberty.

15% will go to the Forest Service for maintenance on public lands.

And 5% will be given to each of the following: the Bureau of Indian Education, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Fish and Wildlife Service.

The list of unfunded repairs and maintenance on things like roads, bridges, restrooms, campgrounds, and visitor centers has been mounting for years. If passed, the law should clear the entire backlog over the next 10 years, with an estimated $2 billion in revenue per year.

Like Roosevelt’s New Deal during the Great Depression, the Great American Outdoors Act is expected to create hundreds of thousands of jobs at a time when unemployment is soaring.

“Once this bill is signed into law, more than 10,000 jobs would be created in Virginia alone, just by the work needed to restore and maintain Park Service sites,” said Democratic Senator Mark Warner in a press release.