Monumental Outdoors Bill Passed by Congress
July 22, 2020
The Great American Outdoors Act, once law, will offer unprecedented funding for outdoor recreation and public lands programs
WASHINGTON, D.C. — On July 22, the U.S. House of Representatives took the final vote on the Great American Outdoors Act, sending it on to the president’s desk to be signed into law. The Great American Outdoors Act will dedicate $900 million annually to the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and direct revenue from federal energy development into our public lands’ nearly $20 billion deferred maintenance project costs. This vote represents the end of a decades-long funding debate and marks the beginning of a new era for trail maintenance, public lands stewardship and outdoor enjoyment.
PeopleForBikes has advocated for these funding reforms, amplifying the voice of our 1.4 million supporters in partnership with the LWCF Coalition, composed of more than 1,000 state, local and national outdoor groups and businesses.
“After years of engagement from our grassroots network and support from the bike industry, we’re celebrating this commitment from Congress to serve our public lands and expand access to the great outdoors,” said PeopleForBikes CEO Jenn Dice. “Our nation is experiencing an unprecedented boom in bike riding. There’s no better way to support this growing community of people on bikes and outdoor recreationists than by signing the Great American Outdoors Act into law.”
Launched by Congress in 1964, the LWCF was designed to direct revenue from federal offshore oil and gas leases to buy land and build trails for parks and wildlife refuges. Unfortunately, a significant portion of the proceeds have traditionally been withheld and reallocated to the government’s general fund. Without costing anything extra to taxpayers, this bill remedies the discrepancy by mandating the original promise of $900 million in annual funding to the LWCF.
The bill will also provide an innovative funding solution for delayed infrastructure projects in our national parks and on public lands. With billions of dollars in backlogged maintenance costs, directing money from energy development on federal lands will help improve our favorite places to bike in national parks, singletrack trails in national forests and reservoir paths under the control of the Bureau of Land Management.
As more Americans find freedom and joy on bikes, it’s critical to protect our treasured public lands and safe spaces to recreate for generations of outdoor enthusiasts to come. We’re grateful for the bipartisan leadership of recreation and public lands champions in Congress that made the ambitions of this bill and its many supporters a reality.
PeopleForBikes represents the bike industry in Washington, D.C. and at the state and local levels with 271 supplier/brand members, 1,000 Ride Spot retailer members and 1.4 million individual supporters in our grassroots network. We work to get more people on bicycles more often and make bike riding better for everyone. Join us at PeopleForBikes.org.