WASHINGTON, D.C. – June 17, 2020 – Today, thanks to the support of Sen. Jon Tester and Sen. Steve Daines, the U.S. Senate passed S. 3422, the Great American Outdoors Act. This is a bipartisan bill to improve our public lands, stabilize funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and provide economic relief to help kickstart the economy.
The federal government owns 640 million acres of land across all 50 states, much of which is open to the public for recreational use. In Montana, 27 million acres are owned by the federal government, greater than 29 percent of the state’s total landmass.
Once signed into law, this legislation would create a National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund to address the growing maintenance backlog on federal public lands in Montana and across the country. Half the revenue from energy development on public lands would be allocated to the fund and distributed to the National Park Service, the Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Indian Education to cover overdue maintenance costs.
The Great American Outdoors Act will fully and permanently fund the LWCF at $900 million annually, ensuring all funding is directed to its intended purpose of state and federal conservation projects.
“A surge in visitors to America’s public lands through the years has led to an accumulation of wear and tear,” said DU CEO Adam Putnam. “Especially in these difficult times, many have sought refuge and recreation on our nation’s extraordinary natural landscapes. That demand for outdoor recreation is a good thing. The Great American Outdoors Act will enable Americans to continue enjoying the great outdoors by ensuring our public lands are a safe and suitable place for all varieties of responsible recreation. A fully funded LWCF provides a boost to our nation’s vital outdoor economy, including at the state and local levels, and ensures this legislation is truly a homerun for conservation and recreation enthusiasts alike.”
These new investments will boost America’s outdoor recreation industry, which generates $887 billion annually and supports 7.6 million American jobs.
Ducks Unlimited has invested more than $28 million in projects in Montana, helping conserve 325,782 acres to date. DU thanks Senators Tester and Daines on behalf of the more than 8,012 active members in their state.
For more information, visit www.ducks.org, and be sure to Follow DU’s newest Twitter feed – @DUNews1937 – to get the most up-to-date news from Ducks Unlimited.
Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 14.5 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information on our work, visit www.ducks.org.