Great American Outdoors Act Passes the House!
Thursday, July 23, 2020
Posted by: Matt Smythe
Yesterday, the House approved the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) with a resounding vote of 310–107. Its passage ensures full and permanent funding - $900 million annually – for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), and also dedicates another $9.5 billion over the next five years to tackle maintenance backlogs in our National Parks and other public lands and waters. The bill now goes to the president’s desk for his signature.
“Conservation victories do not come any bigger than this,” said Ben Bulis, President and CEO of the American Fly Fishing Trade Association. “With full, dedicated and permanent funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, we have ensured that the foundation of our industry’s livelihood will only be stronger from this generation forward. Passage of the Great American Outdoors Act will safeguard the public lands and waters that we rely on for our outdoor pursuits, and that define our uniquely American landscape. This land is your land. This win is your win. We thank our congressional leaders for listening, taking action and making sure this landmark legislation reached the president’s desk.”
The LWCF was created in 1964 and is funded entirely by royalties from offshore oil and gas drilling, not a single penny of taxpayers’ money. Its purpose was to support the conservation of our nation’s public lands and waters. Over the 50-plus years of its existence every county in every state in the country has benefitted from LWCF dollars—however, only twice in its 50-plus years has it been fully funded.
“Together, we made good on a promise made in 1964, finally ensuring the full and dedicated funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund,” said Backcountry Hunters and Anglers President and CEO Land Tawney, “and together we made an overdue investment in some of our most critical fish and wildlife habitat and public lands and waters. The Great American Outdoors Act is a momentous achievement in the name of our most prized American landscapes and outdoors legacy. It’s a once-in-a-generation piece of conservation and public access legislation.”
“Sportsmen and women who have spoken out for years in support of the LWCF and against the chronic underfunding of our public lands agencies should be very proud to be a part of this historic win for public lands, fish and wildlife habitat, and our hunting and fishing access,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “These issues don’t make the front page every day, which is all the more reason to celebrate the willingness of our lawmakers to prioritize the Great American Outdoors Act with a spirit of urgency and bipartisanship.
“Nearly every county in every state has benefitted in some way from LWCF funds,” said Chris Wood, president and CEO of Trout Unlimited. “Brook trout in Maine, wild rainbows on the Upper Delaware, lake trout on the Boundary Waters – all have benefitted from LWCF funding. LWCF has made possible access to fabled fisheries such as the Letort Spring Run in Pennsylvania and Black Earth Creek, the Gateway to the Driftless Area. Less discussed, but equally important, is the funding in the bill that will allow our partners at the Park Service, Forest Service and BLM to begin to get ahead of their maintenance backlogs. Today is a great day for anglers and hunters!”
AFFTA guides the sustainable growth of the fly fishing industry through trade development and stewardship. We accomplish this by advocating for the industry and empowering our members to improve their businesses through collaboration, education and building community; along with advocating for healthy fisheries and engaging our members and partners to support protection, restoration, and access.