Photo credit: Adam DiPietro for USFS, USDA

Unclog the Backlog: Senators Introduce Great American Outdoors Act

The Great American Outdoors Act would provide billions of dollars in funding across public lands at a time when it’s desperately needed. Here’s the scoop.

On March 9, a bevy of bipartisan senators introduced a bill that sets out to dramatically change the funding landscape of public lands over the next 5 years. This was done within a week of President Trump’s supportive if surprising tweet on the matter.

U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Steve Daines (R-MT), Mark Warner (D-VA), Angus King (I-ME), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Richard Burr (R-NC) all signed on to the introduction of the Great American Outdoors Act.

The new legislation combined the former Restore Our Parks bill with a bill that set out to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund. This combination allowed senators room to add additional and much-needed funding for the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and the Bureau of Indian Education.

The bill includes $900 million for the LWCF and $1.9 billion annually to address maintenance backlogs in the aforementioned agencies. A full breakdown of the agency funds follows:

  • 70% for the National Park Service
  • 15% for the U.S. Forest Service
  • 5% for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • 5% for the Bureau of Land Management
  • 5% for the Bureau of Indian Education

This effort looks to not only help American outdoor recreation through dedicated LWCF funding but also to shake the dust off of a $12 billion maintenance backlog that continues to build each year within the National Park Service.

If you’d like to see this bill go all the way, you can advocate for its funding and find contact info for your representatives here.

Nicole Qualtieri

Based in Montana, Nicole Qualtieri is GearJunkie's Hunt + Fish Editor. She also serves as a Board Director for Orion the Hunters Insititute, a non-profit promoting fair chase and hunting ethics nationwide. A DIY hunter, she comes from a non-traditional hunting background and began hunting and fishing in her 30s. She's been a voice for hunting, fishing, and conservation since 2014, when she got started working on the television show MeatEater. She's an avid horsewoman, bird dog aficionado, snowboarder, hiker/backpacker, food nerd, and all-around outdoorswoman. Find her online at @nkqualtieri.