Great American Outdoors Act is passed, following big push from Latinx leaders
The act is expected to create thousands of jobs in the conservation industry.
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The Great American Outdoors Act, regarded by supporters to be a landmark conservation bill, has finally been passed by Congress.
Earlier this year President Donald Trump reversed his position on public lands funding, which would address years of neglect by fully and permanently funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LCWF), and by restoring the nation’s National Parks.
The sudden reversal prompted Congress to draft the Great American Outdoors Act, containing two main parts.
First, it would guarantee full and permanent funding to LWCF. Second, it would create a restoration fund providing millions over the next five years to address years of neglect and lack of funding to agencies such as the National Park Service.
On the day Congress was set to vote on the bill, Trump again voiced his support of the legislation.
“We must protect our National Parks for our children and grandchildren. I am calling on the House to pass the Great American Outdoors Act today,” he tweeted
We MUST protect our National Parks for our children and grandchildren. I am calling on the House to pass the GREAT AMERICAN OUTDOORS ACT today. Thanks @SenCoryGardner and @SteveDaines for all your work on this HISTORIC BILL!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 22, 2020
But those who have been fighting in support of this bill for months — even before Trump suddenly reversed his stance — are the real champions of this bill’s passing.
Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D-NM) is among 12 original cosponsors of the Great American Outdoors Act. She represents New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District, the largest non-at-large district in the United States.
“In New Mexico, our public lands are part of who we are,” Torres tweeted in June.
Today we passed the Great American Outdoors Act—a bipartisan bill that will fully & permanently fund the LWCF. Proud to have worked w/ Rs, Ds, & President Trump to help take this monumental step towards protecting public lands & supporting local economies. https://t.co/V8i2g7MiOD pic.twitter.com/o78VTavpfq— Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (@RepTorresSmall) July 22, 2020
Also from New Mexico, U.S. House Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Luján issued a statement in celebration of the bill’s passing. He has supported the bill for his state to finally get the funding it needs for its public lands.
As our communities continue to address the current public health crisis, this legislation will provide a much-needed boost to our outdoor economy and support thousands of jobs in New Mexico,” said Assistant Speaker Luján.
“As New Mexicans, we take pride in our public lands and natural resources, and I’m glad that Congress has taken action to protect our lands for generations to come.”
Big news: The House just passed the Great American Outdoors Act – landmark legislation to fully #FundLWCF and restore our National Park System.— Ben Ray Luján (@repbenraylujan) July 22, 2020
I'm proud of our work to protect our cherished public lands for New Mexicans to enjoy & boost our outdoor economy. pic.twitter.com/ifcdboU9NJ
With much of the world still heavily-impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, Americans have rediscovered the value in outdoor recreation. The issue is many of these parks are in disrepair.
The Great American Outdoors Act, championed by Latinx leaders, will serve to combat this.