Chesapeake Conservancy Urges Congress to Pass the Great American Outdoors Act

Annapolis, MD – Chesapeake Conservancy President and CEO Joel Dunn issued this statement regarding the Great American Outdoors Act which would permanently and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

LWCF has supported the protection of many incredible landscapes in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Maryland and Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia; Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania, Antietam National Battlefield in Maryland, and Manassas National Battlefield in Virginia; Harper’s Ferry National Historic Park in West Virginia and Piscataway Park in Maryland; George Washington and Jefferson National Forests in Virginia and West Virginia; Douglas Point in Maryland and Meadowood in Virginia; the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail running throughout the Chesapeake: All these places in the Chesapeake and many more have been supported by LWCF.

“For more than a decade, conservation partners have been working to permanently authorize and fully fund one of the most important federal conservation programs: the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). LWCF has enabled the protection of countless natural areas across the United States, thereby providing space for nature and giving Americans exceptional places to explore and enjoy. By protecting lands for national parks and national wildlife refuges and other public lands, and by providing grants for state parks and natural areas, LWCF has also been essential in growing a powerful, multi-billion dollar outdoor recreation economy that supports jobs in communities across the country.

“In 2019, Congress passed legislation to permanently authorize LWCF which was signed by the President into law. This was a remarkable achievement, accomplished through years of coordinated and consistent effort to build support in Congress; however, the goal to permanently and fully fund LWCF at its authorized level remained unmet.

“Congress is on the verge of passing a historic, strongly bipartisan conservation bill, called the Great American Outdoors Act, which would complete this epic chapter by fully funding LWCF. The Great American Outdoors Act would also help to resolve a second, longstanding challenge facing our national parks, forests, refuges, and other public lands: the growing, multi-billion dollar park maintenance backlog. The Great American Outdoors Act would provide critical funding needed to repair infrastructure, roads, park amenities, and trails.

“With a clear view of how important access to parks and natural areas has been to Americans during the pandemic, Chesapeake Conservancy urges Congress to pass the Great American Outdoors Act and achieve a once-in-a-generation victory for conservation in the United States.”

The Great American Outdoors Act (S. 3422) is a bipartisan bill led by Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Steve Daines (R-MT), Rob Portman (R-OH), Mark Warner (D-VA), Angus King (I-ME), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Richard Burr (R-NC).