The Fix is On for National Parks
Executive Summary: The Great American Outdoors Act, the largest land conservation measure in a generation has become law. The National Parks Conservation Association, a leading advocacy organization for the parks, is hailing it as “a conservationist’s dream.”
The legislation has two main impacts. First, it establishes a National Park and Public Lands Legacy Restoration Fund that will provide up to $9.5 billion over the next five years to fix deferred maintenance at national parks, wildlife refuges, forests, and other federal lands, with $6.5 billion earmarked specifically to the 419 national park units.
What You Must Know About the Great American Outdoors Act
The Great American Outdoors Act provides funding for maintaining public lands, as well as conservation efforts that are continuously being made. While this would be an important item during normal times, it is even more important now. After all, the current COVID-19 pandemic in our country is creating a huge demand when it comes to the outdoors.
With family vacations being cancelled to destinations all around the world, more and more people are choosing to spend those vacations outside. Campgrounds are finding themselves booked solid for the first time in years and RV rentals are going through the roof. In fact, 46 million Americans plan to go RVing in the next year.
The goal of the Great American Outdoors Act is to provide $9.5 billion to the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, the US Forest Service, and many other federal agencies. Additional money will be used to completely provide funding to the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
That additional funding also provides $900 million to all the public lands, trails, and parks throughout the country. That money would be doled out over 5 years, so it is important to understand that this portion of the act is not a one-time deal.
Many people do not realize that the National Park Service actually cares for eighty-four million acres of land. That land is scattered among four hundred different parks. Back in 2019, there was almost twelve billion dollars’ worth of repairs and maintenance needed that was not covered in the budget. The number of repairs and maintenance that is not covered each year has continued to grow, which is why this act was so desperately needed.
Most people also do not know that the Land and Water Conservation Fund has never been guaranteed money from the government every year. In fact, most years, the money for this fund is shifted to other groups with what are considered higher needs.
As with every other act and law that is passed, this one was not without controversy. A few senators were concerned with the among of money being spent on the land, when they thought the money could be used for other more important things. There was also concern of where the money for the act would come from every time there was a drop in the amount of energy developed.
However, those concerns were not shared with many of the members of the House and Senate. Both groups passed the bill and the executive branch of government signed it.
There are currently guidelines in place for where the money for the Great American Outdoors Act is coming from for fiscal years 2021 through 2025. According to the details of the act, fifty percent of the federal revenue from all developments of oil, coal, gas, and all alternative and renewable energies on federal waters and land must be deposited. The only caveat is that the amount deposited cannot be more then $1.9 billion each fiscal year.
However, since there is a plan in place as to where the money is coming from, the taxpayers never need to worry about their taxes going up even more.
As amazing as this act is when it comes to repairing and maintaining tens of thousands of acres of public lands and parks, there are even more benefits. The main benefit is the additional jobs this money will create. It is estimated that one hundred thousand jobs will be created overall, which is huge in our current situation.
How the Great American Outdoors Act Will Affect You
Now that you are aware of what the Great American Outdoors Act is, as well as its many benefits, you should also know how it will affect you.
As you begin to head outside more and more this year, and in years to come, you will see that the parks and lands included in this bill look so much better. Regular maintenance will be completed routinely now that money is readily available. Plus, all those repairs that have been all but forgotten about will start to be completed.
This means that you won’t see ruins of buildings and non-working restrooms when you are out exploring a new area. It also means that your camping trips will include many more amenities like interactive visitor centers and clear nature trails.
Imagine being able to travel to all the national parks you want to and never needing to worry about being turned away. This was something that wasn’t possible until the Great American Outdoors Act was passed. Before this act, there was always a chance that coveted RV spots were so run down or didn’t have working electricity or water. Now the routine maintenance and repairs will be completed so every site can be open.
David Kosofsky, Founder and Online Marketing Director at Go RV Rentals explained, “Now is the perfect time to fall in love with RVing! You can easily watch as these parks and lands are transformed back into the glorious destinations they were long ago. While these areas have always been beautiful, no one can argue that many of them have gone downhill over the years. I am hopeful that those who are relying on these national parks and public campgrounds this year will see how the Great American Outdoors Act is going to benefit them in so many ways. Not only can you go camping in an RV, you can also hike, ride your bike, and experience all of the natural wonders these areas have to offer!”
There are so many reasons why the Great American Outdoors Act is beneficial for everyone, but you can see it all for yourself. Start to visit the national parks and public lands to see the money put to use. The changes that occur will quickly make you realize why this act was so necessary to begin with!