Senate passes ‘Great American Outdoors Act’, a bill that invests $9.5 billion in land and water

Local News

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WSYR-TV) — The U.S. Senate passed the “Great American Outdoor Act” on Friday, providing $9.5 billion in land and water conservation and maintenance.

The bill will fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund at $900 million a year and establishes a National Park and Public Lands Legacy Restoration Fund that addresses the backlog of maintenance needed on the nation’s public lands.

Funds provided would equal $1.9 billion annually.

Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand said this bill is critical for states like New York that have robust outdoor recreation industries like fishing, boating, swimming, hiking, and more.

New York’s outdoor recreation economy generates $41.8 billion in consumer spending, $14 billion in wages and salaries, $3.6 billion in state and local tax revenue, and creates and supports 313,000 jobs.

The division of funds would be as follows:

  • 70% – National Parks Services
  • 15% – U.S. Forest Service
  • 5% – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • 5%. – Bureau of Land Management
  • 5% – Bureau of Indian Education Schools

New York State is home to 35 parks managed by the National Parks Service, 10 wildlife refuges managed by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, and the Finger Lakes National Forest which is managed by the U.S. Forest Service.

Schumer and Gillibrand referred to several projects across New York that are currently on hold due to a lack of federal funding. For example, the Gateway National Recreation Area needs $651,078,965 in maintenance funding.

Additionally, the Senators said that the properties associated with the Harriet Tubman National Historic Park in Auburn, New York – the Thompson A.M.E Zion Church, Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged and the Harriet Tubman Residence – require millions of dollars in funding to become fully operational and open to visitors. Other sites like the Stonewall National Monument and African Burial Ground National Monument in New York City will be eligible for funding as well.

The bill will now head to the House.


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