Landmark Legislation Protects Public Lands and Expands Recreation Opportunities for Decades to Come
The Great American Outdoors Act, which was officially signed into law at a White House ceremony today, is the most significant conservation legislation in a generation. It will protect wildlife habitat, conserve public lands and waters, and expand outdoor recreation opportunities across Ohio – and across the nation. The law, which was passed by overwhelming bipartisan majorities in Congress this summer, will permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund and will provide up to $1.9 billion a year to address deferred maintenance issues at our national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and other public lands.
“For over 50 years, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has helped maintain beloved recreation areas from the Cuyahoga Valley National Park to Butler County’s Elk Creek Metropark, from the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge to Trumbull County’s Kinsman Township Park and more than 1400 projects in between. The Land and Water Conservation Fund has helped connect families with nature, increased access for hunting and fishing, and fueled a burgeoning outdoor recreation economy,” said Matt Misicka, executive director of the Ohio Conservation Federation. “The Great American Outdoors Act now guarantees that our public lands and recreation areas will thrive for future generations to enjoy.”
“The Great American Outdoors Act is a truly historic, bipartisan conservation accomplishment that will protect wildlife habitat, expand recreational opportunities, restore public lands and waters, and create good jobs,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “Time and again, our leaders have shown that conservation can not only bridge the partisan divide, but also put Americans back to work and safeguard wildlife and our way of life for future generations. Congress should build on this bipartisan achievement by jumpstarting our post-COVID 19 economic recovery by passing additional job creating measures such as a 21st Century Conservation Corps and the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act.”
The Land and Water Conservation Fund, which is often called America’s most effective land conservation program, has been a top priority of the Ohio Conservation Federation and the National Wildlife Federation. Fifty-six years ago, the National Wildlife Federation worked closely with Interior Secretary Stewart Udall and leaders in Congress to secure the initial passage of the program, and then worked to increase funding and programmatic impact in 1968, 1970 and 1977.
For the past six years, the Ohio Conservation Federation and the National Wildlife Federation helped lead the charge to permanently reauthorize and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The bipartisan triumph of the Great America’s Outdoors Act is very much the result of the hard work of our members, affiliates, and partners, who spoke with their elected officials, wrote letters, and kept up a steady stream of advocacy for this important program.