WASHINGTON – The U.S. House of Representatives voted Wednesday to pass the Great American Outdoors Act, a bill to permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) at $900 million annually and provide $9.5 billion over five years to fix maintenance problems that are plaguing America’s public lands. The bill garnered considerable bipartisan support, and now heads to the President’s desk.
In response to the House’s vote, Environment Texas Executive Director Luke Metzger released the following statement:
“From camping under the stars at Big Bend to exploring the cypress swamps of Caddo Lake, our parks make life better here in Texas. In them we can build sandcastles at the beach, camp in the mountains, stargaze in dark sky sanctuaries, and even explore dinosaur footprints. Our parks protect the clean water we depend on and provide a home for some of Texas’ most wondrous wildlife, like the black bear and the leatherback sea turtle.
“Meanwhile, after decades of neglect, the infrastructure on our public lands is crumbling. The last major infrastructure investment in national parks was 50+ years ago. The National Parks Service is estimating 41,000 assets are now in need of maintenance or repair, including bridges, trails, roads, campgrounds and visitor centers. As a result, the American Society of Civil Engineers has given our parks a D+ infrastructure score. In Texas, our 13 national parks, monuments and historical parks have a $154 million maintenance backlog.
“The Great American Outdoors Act embraces what we all know to be true: protecting and enhancing our public lands is an essential part of the American ethos. By locking in $900 million a year for outdoor projects, plus providing a short-term infusion of money to address maintenance issues, the House is reaffirming that commitment to the natural world.
“We applaud the House’s bipartisan passage of the Great American Outdoors Act, and ask that President Trump sign this important bill.”
Environment Texas is a non-profit advocate for clean air, clean water and open spaces.