Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA)

Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA)

The Great American Outdoors Act:

The Great American Outdoors Act, authored by Congressman Mike Simpson (R-ID-2), was signed into law by President Trump on August, 4, 2020, marking the biggest change to American public lands in decades. The legislation secured permanent funding for the existing Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which has been a historically important program to conserving public lands and improving outdoor recreation opportunities. The Great American Outdoors Act will help protect our public lands and increase visitor access for generations to come, while also creating jobs and positive economic impacts for local, often rural, communities.

“This legislative effort has been a long journey dating back to when I first wrote the LAND Act. It is so gratifying to see this framework embraced in a bipartisan manner under the banner of the Great American Outdoors Act, and I thank President Trump for making this idea the law of the land. In Idaho, we are blessed with amazing public lands and this legislation will ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy them as we have.” [PL1] 

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) was established in 1964 to use earnings from the federal government’s offshore oil and gas leases to buy land, pay for maintenance at national parks, and provide money to states to help meet demands for outdoor recreation. Simpson’s bill not only permanently funds the existing LWCF, but also creates a new fund to address the backlog of deferred maintenance in National Parks, National Forests, Bureau of Land Management assets, Wildlife Refuges, and Bureau of Indian Education school construction. The long-overdue maintenance backlogs on public lands would be funded by unobligated energy revenues over a five-year period as opposed to using taxpayer funds.

Idaho’s National Forests have some of the largest deferred maintenance needs, such as roads and trails, while Yellowstone National Park has over $585 million in deferred maintenance costs. Thanks to the Great American Outdoors Act outdoor areas across Idaho will be getting upgrades.

The bill garnered the support of a wide range of sportsmen groups, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – XXXXXXXXXX, and passed the House of Representatives by an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote.