Channel Islands National Park
Channel Islands National Park; photo credit: NPS

Congress Passes Great American Outdoors Act, Moves to Trump’s Desk

The final hurdle the Outdoors Act needs to pass is the desk of President Trump. He has 10 days to either sign or veto it.

In a win for public lands, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Great American Outdoors Act with a 310-107 vote. The bill picked up steam earlier this March, but with the onset of COVID-19, it seemed to fall to the wayside.

However, a push for job creation, outdoor recreation, and the Land and Water Conservation Fund helped fuel the momentum for the Great American Outdoors Act. The Senate passed the bill in a 73-25 vote on June 17, with a broadly bipartisan group on the yeas and an entirely Republican group on the nays.

The House, too, voted in a strongly bipartisan manner.

“It is an honor to lead the effort in the House to pass the Great American Outdoors Act,” said Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-SC). “Today, the House passed bipartisan legislation that will deliver jobs to communities across the country, protect recreational access, preserve historic sites and restore aging national park and public land infrastructure.”

Citizen Support, Political Buy-In

Many in Congress have noted the overwhelming amount of citizen support for the GAOA, and groups like Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, The Wilderness Society, and even gear retailer REI have championed the effort. The act would provide billions in funding for our public lands and national parks.

“Today, we the people made history,” said BHA President and CEO Land Tawney. “We made good on a promise from 1964, permanently dedicating the revenues intended for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and made an overdue investment in some of our most critical fish and wildlife habitat.”

The allocated money provided in the GAOA will go toward more funding for public lands. Specifically, it will help improve access to park spaces and address the maintenance backlog at national parks and forests.

“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 that will have impacts for generations to come,” continued Tawney.

Waiting on the President

The Great American Outdoors Act will now be sent to the president’s desk. And with only 10 days to sign or veto, we’ll know shortly whether the act will pass the finish line. But the outcome looks good, as President Trump tweeted in support of the act in March.

Representatives are also feeling hopeful, as Rep. Cunningham noted, “I look forward to President Trump swiftly signing this legislation into law so that we can protect access to the great outdoors for generations of Americans to come.”

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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.