SCA Statement on Congressional Passage of Great American Outdoors Act

Thursday, July 23, 2020

The Student Conservation Association applauds Congressional approval of the Great American Outdoors Act and looks forward to seeing the President add his signature to this landmark legislation.

The new National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund will invest up to $1.9 billion annually over the next five years for deferred maintenance projects on National Park Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Indian Education, and U.S. Forest Service lands. 

At a time when the coronavirus pandemic has staggered our economy and spiked unemployment, the Great American Outdoors Act will provide jobs and training opportunities for young people and others nationwide while also improving conditions and visitor experiences across our public lands.

SCA is grateful to U.S. Senate co-sponsors Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Joe Manchin (D-WV), and to Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-SC), who sponsored the House version with the late Rep. John Lewis, who sadly passed before the Act was approved. This measure only adds to Rep. Lewis’ remarkable legacy.

SCA and its service members have a long record of protecting and restoring our nation’s extraordinary natural assets, and we are prepared to once again answer the urgent call to safeguard public lands.

National parks, seashores, memorials, forests, and refuges are major economic engines for adjacent communities and regions. Park tourism alone generates over $40 billion in economic output and supports 341,000 jobs, while the recreation industry as a whole contributes $778 billion to the national economy and generates 5.2 million American jobs each year.

Restoring park infrastructure and ensuring visitor access and safety will help to sustain these jobs and create thousands of new opportunities at a time when job creation is so important for our country and our people. Passage of the Great American Outdoors Act is truly great news.