Press Releases

Simpson Led Outdoors Bill Heads to Trump’s Desk

Washington, July 22, 2020

 

Simpson Led Outdoors Bill Heads to Trump’s Desk

The Great American Outdoors Act fixes public lands and funds LWCF

 

Washington, D.C. - On Wednesday, legislation authored by Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson passed the House of Representatives by a large bipartisan vote of 310-107. The bill permanently funds the existing Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) which increases access to public lands. The bill also maintains public lands by creating 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.

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. The bill does not spend taxpayer funds but instead utilizes existing funding from energy production on federal lands and waters. The legislation is based off a framework of bipartisan legislation the Congressman Simpson originally authored in 2017 called the LAND Act. The bill is supported by both Idaho and national conservation groups in addition to President Trump.

“I am thrilled to see this legislation on its way to President Trump’s desk where he will sign the bill into law,” said Simpson. “Not only does this bill support hundreds of thousands of jobs, but it protects and maintains our public lands for generations that aren’t even born yet. I grew up on the doorstep of Yellowstone, and so many communities in Idaho benefit from the outdoor access and the economic impacts of our public lands. The Great American Outdoors Act ensures that projects are vetted by Congress annually, funds the programs without using taxpayer funds, and continues important state- based projects like greenbelts, parks, and community pools. Bottom line, this bill is great for Idaho and public lands across this country.” 

The bill has a wide range of support from sportsmen groups, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the Secretary of the Interior, David Bernhardt. Secretary Bernhardt recently penned an op-ed in The Hill that notes the Great American Outdoors Act is, “the most significant legislative accomplishment for conservation stewardship.”

This historic legislation will help preserve public lands and visitor access for generations to come, while also creating jobs and positive economic impacts for local, often rural, communities. In 2019, over 327 million national park visits led to $21 billion in direct spending at hotels, restaurants, outfitters, and other amenities in gateway communities, supporting over 340,000 jobs and generating over $40 billion in total economic output. Nationally, outdoor recreation contributes $778 billion in consumer spending and supports 5.2 million American jobs. A  recent study found that components of the Great American Outdoors Act alone will support over 100,000 direct and indirect jobs.

The Senate passed the bill by a large bipartisan vote of 73-25 and President Trump is expected to sign the bill in the coming weeks.

Watch Simpson speak on the U.S. House of Representatives floor here.

###