U.S. Senate passes bipartisan legislation to fully fund critical conservation fund, repair and maintain National Parks

On June 17th the U.S. Senate – with overwhelming bipartisan support – approved The Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA), making a historic investment in America’s public lands.

Supporters of the legislation – including Washington’s Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust – said the investment will leave a positive legacy on American conservation for generations to come. 

This legislation permanently funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) at a level of $900 million per year through royalties from offshore oil and gas drilling. It also allocates $9.5 billion over five years toward the backlog of repairs and maintenance at national parks.

The LWCF was established by congress in 1964 and is a key funding source for conserving public lands, improving parks and trails and preserving natural, historical and cultural resources.

Over the past 50 years Washington has received over $700 million from the LWCF. Since 1990 it helped conserve over 90,000 acres of public land within Washington’s Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Area – and also improved dozens of city, county and state parks.

The GAOA was introduced on March 9, 2020, with 59 senators co-sponsoring the bill, including Majority Leader McConnell, Minority Leader Schumer and Washington Senators Murray and Cantwell.

Washington State proponents of the GAOA say it is critical to preserving the vast landscapes of national forests and parks that are a huge part of Washington’s identify and economy.

The legislation has to be taken up by the house before it can be signed into law by President Trump, who signaled earlier this year that was supportive.

According to Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust Deputy Director Amy Brockhaus, “The U.S. House will be in session July 20-31. Leader Steny Hoyer has committed to a vote during that time period.”

We’ll provide an update as the legislation moves forward.

Middle Fork area near North Bend, part of Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage area. Photo: MTSG Facebook page

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