Jun 17 2020
Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) released the following statement after the Senate passed the Great American Outdoors Act, a bill that would address the National Park Services maintenance backlog and provide permanent annual funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
“California is home to more national parks than any other state, and we understand the tremendous value our public lands provide. That’s why I’m proud to support the Great American Outdoors Act to ensure dedicated funding for land conservation, recreation opportunities and long-overdue maintenance of our national parks and other public lands.
“The National Park Service has a $12 billion maintenance backlog. This bill would help repair crumbling park infrastructure. Notably, the funds come from onshore and offshore drilling leases, not American taxpayers.
“But this is more than a public lands bill, it’s also a jobs bill. The parks welcomed 327 million visitors last year, adding nearly $42 billion to our national economy and supporting more than 340,000 existing jobs. According to Pew Charitable Trusts, this bill would also create 110,000 additional jobs repairing infrastructure in our national parks.
“This bipartisan bill would permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund. California has been the largest recipient of LWCF funds in the program’s five decade history, helping protect desert tortoise habitat, expand Joshua Tree National Park and safeguard the Lake Tahoe Basin. According to a recent study, every $1 million spent on the LWCF supports as many as 30 jobs.
“Protecting our public lands is critical to California’s tourism economy. As we continue to open up our state, the investments we make now will pay huge dividends.”
What’s in the bill:
National Parks and Public Lands Legacy Restoration Fund
- Establishes a fund to address deferred maintenance at the National Park Service, Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Indian Education.
- The fund would receive up to $1.9 billion annually for five years, paid for by unobligated onshore and offshore energy revenues.
- The Park Service would receive 70 percent of the funding to address its $12 billion maintenance backlog. The remaining amount would be used to address the $8 billion maintenance backlog at USFS, FWS, BLM and BIE.
Land and Water Conservation Fund
- Provides $900 million per year in permanent funding for the LWCF, which supports the protection of federal public lands and waters – including national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and recreation areas – and voluntary conservation on private land.
- The LWCF doesn’t use taxpayer dollars but rather is funded from a portion of royalties on offshore oil and gas development.