Chesapeake Conservancy Applauds House Passage of the Great American Outdoors Act

Annapolis, MD – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Great American Outdoors Act, bipartisan and bicameral legislation that fully and permanently funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund and that provides additional funding to address deferred maintenance at national parks, wildlife refuges, and other public lands over the next five years.

Chesapeake Conservancy President and CEO Joel Dunn praised the legislation and the House passage.

“This is truly a historic moment for conservation in the United States, and the overwhelming positive impacts of this bill are sure to reverberate across the country and right here in the Chesapeake. The Great American Outdoors Act is a remarkable piece of legislation that will dramatically increase federal resources for land conservation and maintenance for our national parks and wildlife refuges and other natural areas.

“This legislation is also critically important for our efforts to conserve 30% of the Chesapeake Bay watershed by 2030, and 30% of the nation’s lands and waters by 2030. I applaud the great work of the U.S. House to swiftly take up and pass this important legislation, which is so important for nature and for the health of our people and our local economies.

“Park visitation is skyrocketing around the country and at many parks here in the Chesapeake. Parks in Baltimore and in Washington, D.C. have experienced about a 90 percent increase in visitation during the COVID-19 pandemic. People are demanding access to nature for health and for recreation, and the Great American Outdoors Act will provide a huge boost for public access to parks in the coming years. The bill also supports the booming, multi-billion dollar outdoor recreation economy, which accounted for 2.2 percent of GDP in 2017 and which generates $887 billion in consumer spending and 7.6 million jobs across the country.

“Thank you to our Chesapeake Bay watershed delegation members who voted to pass this important legislation, and thank you to Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Speaker Pelosi for your outstanding leadership to ensure a swift and successful passage by the House.”

Today, Chesapeake Conservancy’s Conservation Innovation Center released a study comparing mobility (park usage) between Jan 3-Feb 6, 2020 (pre-COVID) and May 16-July 14, 2020 (during COVID) and measured the largest metropolitan areas by population and those within approximately a one-hour-drive. The study showed that 18 of 25 metro areas experienced significant increases in park visitation during COVID-19. Within the Chesapeake Bay watershed, metro areas experienced a significant increase in park visitation: Washington D.C. +93.99%, Baltimore, MD +86.97%.

Passed by the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives, the Great American Outdoors Act now awaits signature by the President in order to be signed into law.