July 23, 2020

Manchin's Great American Outdoors Act Heads To President's Desk

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, released the following statement after the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act by the U.S. House of Representatives with a vote of 310-107. The package passed the Senate by a bipartisan vote of 73-25 last month. To learn more about the benefits of the Great American Outdoors Act for West Virginia click here.

“I’m excited to see the House of Representatives overwhelmingly pass the Great American Outdoors Act just as the Senate did last month. This package provides full and permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and will significantly reduce the approximately $20 billion deferred maintenance backlog on our Country’s public lands. This bill is truly a historic conservation victory and will ensure that America’s treasured public lands are preserved for generations to come. I’m proud of this bipartisan piece of legislation and look forward to the President signing it into law,” said Senator Manchin.

Senator Manchin has been a long-time advocate of the LWCF and, in February 2019, led the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act through the Senate, which permanently authorized the LWCF. Since it was created 1965, only about $19 billion of LWCF funds have been appropriated, leaving over $22 billion of the revenues that have accrued in the Fund unappropriated. The program has only been fully funded twice in its history. Senator Manchin’s Great American Outdoors Act would provide the full $900 million to the Fund every year going forward. Senator Manchin is proud to be joined by every member of the Democratic caucus in supporting this legislation.

The Great American Outdoors Act also provides significant funding to address the deferred maintenance needs on Federal lands. The legislation would provide $9.5 billion over 5 years for the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Indian Education maintenance backlogs.

This bill will also serve as a much needed stimulus to combat the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Senator Manchin stressed the economic impact outdoor recreation has had and will have for states across the country, particularly West Virginia. Investing in deferred maintenance projects would create more than 110,000 infrastructure related jobs. Also, a new analysis from Boston University found that at full funding of $900 million, the LWCF could support an additional 15,000 to 28,000 jobs each year.

Background information on the Great American Outdoors Act can be found here