The United States Senate has passed a new act of legislation to fully and permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund. This will allow record investments in the US outdoor economy and its future. The bill includes funding for maintenance backlogs in the four public land agencies and Bureau of Indian Education. It is a great first step that the Senate has passed the law. Next, it needs to pass the US House of Representatives and finally the President.
Please also read: Wilderness in US and Europe
Creating a long-lasting impact
If the Act is to become a law, the secured funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund is expected to create thousands of jobs. It will support the safeguarding of lasting outdoor heritage for the generations to come. Until now, the Land and Water Conservation Fund is said to be one of America’s most successful conservation programmes. It has helped to protect valuable natural places and provides access for the public to the outdoors. With the permanent funding, the Fund is able to invest in infrastructure to improve access and sustainable visitor experience.
The bill would make 1.9 Billion dollars annually available for maintenance projects. Of this, 70% goes to the National Park Service, 15% to the Forest Service, and 5% each to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Indian Education.
Strong support amongst stakeholders
There are many different stakeholders for the American Outdoors, creating a strong support for the bill. Not only the outdoor recreation industry, but also conservation and sports organisations expressed their support. More than 800 conservation groups sent a letter of support to the Congressional leadership to pass the bill.
During and prior to the COVID-19 lockdown, conservation efforts have been under large pressure. Financial restrictions make it difficult to handle increasing visitor numbers, while protecting what the visitors come to see. With the Great American Outdoor Act, both the lands and the communities on these lands would gain support and stability to sustainably exist for the time to come.
The passage of the Great American Outdoors Act is a truly historic conservation victory that will ensure that America’s public lands and treasured landscapes endure for future generations. It will also accelerate our economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis by creating hundreds of thousands of good jobs, while expanding outdoor recreational opportunities for every community in the country.
Sustainable tourism development
Many countries are facing difficulties, dealing with increasing tourism in their natural areas. The development of sustainable tourism and environment-friendly practices is therefore more important than ever. The European Wilderness Society has therefore initiated an online training course for rangers and protected area managers on this topic. As part of our project, co-funded by the European Outdoor Conservation Association, we have organised five online training sessions with an international group of participants from Ukrainian, Austrian, German, Czech and beyond.