Last night, the House of Representatives took a pivotal step forward in fulfilling the promise our country made more than 50 years ago to protect, preserve and expand access to our public lands for all Americans by passing the Great American Outdoors Act. This historic legislation will provide full, dedicated funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund as well as billions of dollars to address the maintenance backlog on our public lands.
Jad Daley, President and CEO of American Forests, issued the following statement:
“The Great American Outdoors Act is the most significant forest conservation measure in the last half century, and its final passage should be celebrated as an historic achievement. This legislation directly aligns with the work of American Forests over the last 145 years to wisely conserve and steward America’s forests for the benefit of our nation.
In these challenging times, it has become more clear than ever before that every American, regardless of race, gender, religion, or income, has a need and a right to enjoy our public lands, from city parks to national parks. The Great American Outdoors Act makes an investment in our public lands to better open up opportunities for everyone to enjoy the outdoors. That’s particularly critical during this pandemic, in which access to the outdoors has become more important than ever to our physical and mental health.
This bill will also have a major impact in helping us keep forests as forests, so that they can continue to help America combat climate change. Our forest lands and forest products capture and store 15% of our annual carbon emissions, and by taking steps like conserving our existing forests and planting more trees, we have potential to nearly double this natural climate solution. But the benefits of forest conservation go far beyond climate change. The public and private forests conserved thanks to the Great American Outdoors Act will provide recreational opportunities and wildlife habitat, sustain public water supplies, generate forest products, and support millions of jobs.
We thank all the members of Congress and their staff who have worked tirelessly over decades on this issue for their leadership, and strongly urge President Trump to sign this historic legislation.”