(Washington, DC)— Today, the Senate passed the Great American Outdoors Act, bipartisan legislation cosponsored by U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) to permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and provide mandatory funding for deferred maintenance on public lands. The LWCF helps preserve and maintain critical lands for national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and recreational areas in New Hampshire and across the country.
“I have long been a strong supporter of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which has helped ensure New Hampshire’s most treasured natural sites are protected and preserved for future generations to enjoy,” said Senator Shaheen. “In addition to bolstering conservation efforts by finally providing LWCF with the full and permanent funding it deserves, this bill will boost our outdoor recreation economy and help address the substantial maintenance backlogs faced by federal lands and refuges in our state. This backlog is causing budgetary shortfalls and threatens the safety and long-term sustainability of these areas. I’m pleased by the bipartisan support that allowed the Great American Outdoors Act to clear the Senate. The House should follow suit swiftly and pass this bill.”
“New Hampshire’s natural beauty helps define us as a state and drives our outdoor economy—and the Great American Outdoors Act will provide critical support to protect these natural resources for generations to come,” said Senator Hassan. “I am very pleased to have worked with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle on this bill to ensure the permanent funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which is critical for protecting our environment, and in turn, our public health. The bill also secures much-needed additional resources to address the maintenance backlog on federal lands. From the White Mountain National Forest to the Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge to community parks and trails across our state, this bipartisan legislation will help preserve the places that Granite State families love to enjoy and that spur our tourism industry.”
New Hampshire has a backlog of more than $43 million in deferred maintenance. The following areas would be eligible for maintenance funding under the Great American Outdoors Act:
Bill text of the Great American Outdoors Act is available here.
Shaheen and Hassan have led efforts to help secure full funding and permanent authorization for the LWCF, which has helped protect more than 2.5 million acres of land and supported tens of thousands of state and local outdoor recreation projects throughout the nation. Shaheen and Hassan’s bipartisan bill to permanently reauthorize the LWCF was included in legislation that was signed into law last year. A senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Shaheen successfully secured $495 million in federal funding – $60 million over previous funding levels – for the LWCF in government funding legislation signed into law in December. Shaheen and Hassan are cosponsors of the Restore Our Parks Act, bipartisan legislation that would address the $20 billion backlog in long delayed maintenance projects on public lands.