Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR) members recently applauded the Senate for introducing a bipartisan bill, the Great American Outdoors Act, that prioritizes the $20 billion maintenance backlog facing public lands and waters and fully funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). It includes the Restore Our Parks Act (ROPA), which would help improve key outdoor recreation related facilities like docks, restrooms, campgrounds, trails, roads and more – many of which the ORR says have needed updating or repairs for years.
ORR members led the effort to ensure the inclusion of other agencies, beyond the National Park Service, in this legislation. The organization said thanks to the efforts of Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO), among many others, the U. S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will receive maintenance backlog funding.
"We are thrilled with this outcome that will ensure adequate infrastructure for all types of recreation on our public lands and waters can support rural communities and economies," a statement from the ORR said.
LWCF funds can be a lifeline for communities in need of recreation access to local, state and national parks, wildlife habitats, working forests and more. This important program has only been funded at the fully-authorized amount of $900 million twice in history. The ORR said this bill would achieve the decades-long goal of fully and permanently funding LWCF into the future while allowing for more recreation access projects on local, state and federal lands that will support a thriving outdoor recreation economy for years to come.
“Today is a huge step for outdoor recreationists, the industry and the $778 billion outdoor recreation economy,” said Jessica Wahl, executive director of Outdoor Recreation Roundtable. “We have supported these issues for a long time and are thrilled to see movement on them as they will help to further fuel the outdoor recreation economy across the country. We appreciate the sponsors’ dedication to these bills and the huge outpouring of support from ORR members and partners to achieve the inclusion of BLM, USFS, and FWS in the Great American Outdoors Act.”
Infrastructure – especially solving the agencies’ deferred maintenance needs and expanding access for all forms of outdoor recreation – is the main issue that brought ORR together and unites our dozens of sectors. ORR members have worked tirelessly over the years educating leaders in Washington, D.C. and other outdoor recreation partners in order to get both of these key recreation bills to this point. "Our strong membership will not stop their work on behalf of all outdoor recreation enthusiasts until this measure is signed into law," ORR said.
“With such a large, bipartisan group of elected officials coming together in support of legislation that makes a significant investment in our public lands and waters, it is abundantly clear that the outdoor recreation industry, led by boating and fishing, has earned our seat at the decision making table and we’re here to stay,” said Nicole Vasilaros, senior vice president of government and legal affairs at the National Marine Manufacturers Association. “Without raising a dime in new taxes, this bill will repair, restore, and protect our cherished recreation resources for generations to come. There are no good reasons for Congress to delay its passage one more day.”