President Trump Signs Historic Great American Outdoors ActPress Release
WASHINGTON — On Tuesday President Donald Trump signed into law new legislation that will devote roughly $3 billion annually to conservation projects, outdoor recreation and maintenance of national parks, and other public lands which was recently approved by Congress.
“There hasn’t been anything like this since Teddy Roosevelt, I suspect,” Trump said praising the 26th president, who created many national parks, forests, and monuments to preserve the nation’s natural resources.
Supporters boast the Great American Outdoors Act is the most significant conservation legislation enacted in nearly half a century, however opponents argue that the money isn't enough to cover the estimated $20 billion maintenance deficit from federally owned lands.
The law which requires full, mandatory funding of the popular Land and Water Conservation Fund, addresses the maintenance backlog America’s national parks and public lands have endured for years.
The law would spend approximately $900 million a year, doubling current spending on the conservation fund while adding an additional $1.9 billion per year on improvements at national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and range lands.
Supporters back the legislation claiming it will provide at least 100,000 new jobs, while restoring national parks, trails, and forest systems.
The national park maintenance deficit has been a problem for decades, stemming through several Republican and Democratic administrations.
The House and the Senate previously cleared both bills by overwhelming bipartisan margins this summer.
Among the bills' congressional champions are Republican Sens. Cory Gardner from Colorado and Steve Daines of Montana.
Both are among the Senate's most valuable functionaries, as each represents a state where outdoor economy and tourism at sites such as the Rocky Mountain and Yellowstone national parks plays an exceptionally large role.
Daines and Gardner persuaded Trump to support the legislation at a White House meeting earlier this year, even though Trump has repeatedly tried to slash spending for the Land and Water Conservation Fund in many of his previous budget cut proposals.
The legislation's opponents, made mostly of Republicans, complain it would not eliminate the estimated $20 billion in maintenance backlog from 640 acres of federally owned lands.
However, the legislation authorizes $9.5 billion in funds for maintenance and improvements over a five year span.
Lawmakers from many Gulf Coast states have also complained claiming their states don't receive enough of the share of revenue stemming from offshore oil and gas drilling that is used to pay for conservation funds.
Recommended for You
Get more stories like this by signing up for our daily newsletter, The LIVE! Daily.