Ask Congressman Peter Welch to vote YES on the Great American Outdoors Act
Senator Leahy, Senator Sanders, and Congressman Welch have expressed strong support for the Great American Outdoors Act. This bill will help grow our outdoor economy and protect the places we love. Update: The Great American Outdoors Act passed in the US Senate on Wednesday, June 17. Next it goes to the House of Representatives.
Send a message below to Congressman Welch. Ask him to vote YES on this legislation when it reaches the House.
As Congress considers how best to address the economic crisis that has come alongside the current public health emergency, investment in our parks, public lands and outdoor recreation infrastructure is critical to the recovery. Like other sectors tied to travel and tourism, outdoor businesses are suffering an unprecedented shock, facing dramatically decreased sales and revenue, difficulties with production and distribution and large numbers of furloughs and layoffs.
At the same time, never before have the American people valued their parks, trails, forests and waters more, turning to them for emotional solace and physical activity in this time of isolation and anxiety. The pandemic has shown clearly that many communities are woefully underserved. Now more than ever, we need to make sure that every American has close-to-home access to outdoor recreation, that access is expanded to ensure safety without overcrowding, and that these places are protected and maintained so they can continue to provide these benefits for decades and generations to come.
With travel and tourism particularly hard-hit in this current crisis, we must provide as much support as possible for a strong reopening and long-term recovery. But even before the economic slowdown caused by coronavirus, these resources were facing unprecedented pressures and threats:
- Our National Park System is aging and is suffering from neglected historic sites, crumbling roads and trails, and outdated visitor amenities. Deteriorating infrastructure, exacerbated by increasing visitation pressures and inconsistent annual funding, has led to a nearly $12 billion backlog in repair needs in America’s national parks; this total increases to $18 billion when overdue maintenance needs on other public lands are included.
- At the same time, there is a backlog of recreation and conservation needs in every state and county across this country. Chronic diversion of funds intended for the Land and Water Conservation Fund – the nation’s most important tool for conservation and public recreation access – has increasingly jeopardized the integrity of our public lands and impeded public use and enjoyment. Over $22 billion has been diverted from communities in need over the 55 years of LWCF’s existence: non-taxpayer dollars which were specifically set aside to protect parks and public lands from the threat of development inside their borders; to connect landscapes for wildlife and fire management, reducing management costs; to preserve water quantity and quality; to sustain working landscapes and rural economies; and to increase access for recreation for all Americans no matter where they live.
By addressing these two related challenges, the Great American Outdoors Act will secure the future of our public lands legacy, protect visitor safety and recreation access, and sustain thriving local communities.
Send a quick note of thanks below to Congressman Welch to thank him for his support, and to encourage him to champion this bill as it works its way through Congress!