WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) helped lead a bipartisan group of Senators to introduce the Great American Outdoors Act to fully and permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and address the national parks maintenance backlog. The bill includes a measure championed by Senator Heinrich to extend funding to address maintenance backlogs at all four public lands agencies and the Bureau of Indian Education.
“This is a major step forward in our effort to fully, permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund—one of America's most successful conservation programs, and finally address the national park maintenance backlog. LWCF has helped preserve many treasured public lands—including the Valles Caldera, Ute Mountain, and Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico—that power our thriving outdoor recreation economy. It also protects our drinking water, provides public land access, and ensures there are neighborhood parks, soccer fields, and baseball diamonds for our children,” said Heinrich, who was part of a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers to announce the legislation last week. “Our National Parks are uniquely American and offer endless opportunities to explore our nation's natural and historical treasures, and significantly boost local economies in their surrounding communities. I'm proud to help lead this bipartisan effort to address the parks maintenance backlog and invest in the infrastructure that improves access and visitor experience to all our public lands for generations to come.”
The language in the bill secured by Senator Heinrich would make $1.9 billion available each year for agency maintenance projects--$9.5 billion total--with 70 percent allocated for National Park Service projects, 15 percent for Forest Service, 5 percent for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 5 percent for Bureau of Land Management, and 5 percent for Bureau of Indian Education schools.
“In addition to the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Land Management provide outdoor recreational opportunities for the American people, and have deferred maintenance needs that deserve to be addressed. This is especially important for sportsmen, since the vast majority of hunting and fishing on public lands happens in places managed by these other three agencies,” said Heinrich. “I’m also proud of our effort to provide much-needed funding to improve safety and address the maintenance backlog at the Bureau of Indian Education. Students across Indian Country deserve high-quality education in a safe environment where they can learn and thrive. For too long, many Bureau of Indian Education schools have been in need of construction and repairs.”
A copy of the Great American Outdoors Act is available here.