June 9, 2020 (WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Yesterday, the Senate took a monumental step toward passing the historic Great American Outdoors Act (S. 3422), which represents the single greatest commitment to increasing public access and advancing conservation in a lifetime, by voting to proceed to final consideration of the bill on an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 80-17.
S. 3422 will provide $9.5 billion over 5 years to address the crumbling infrastructure on America’s public lands and waters. While the National Park Service will receive $6.5 billion in funding, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) worked to secure the inclusion of $3 billion in funding to be set aside to repair and maintain public land infrastructure overseen by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), U.S. Fish and Wildlife (USFWS), and U.S. Forest Service (USFS), which are critically important to providing recreational opportunities to sportsmen and women.
“The overwhelming vote yesterday evening in the Senate clearly demonstrates the importance of sportsmen and women,” said CSF President Jeff Crane. “The Great American Outdoors Act is once-in-a-lifetime legislation that will increase access, advance conservation, and provide new employment opportunities for Americans at a critical time. We are grateful for the strong bipartisan vote yesterday, and we urge the Senate to replicate this vote later in the week to ensure final passage.”
The inclusion of funding specifically for BLM, USFWS, and USFS lands and waters will ensure that Americans have the opportunity to access some of their most cherished places to participate in hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting. Over 246 million acres, or 99%, of BLM lands are open to hunting and fishing while the USFS reports that 99% of the 193 million acres it administers are open to hunting and at least 99% of USFS administered rivers, streams, and lakes are open to fishing. Collectively, BLM, USFWS, and USFS annually support more than 25 million hunting days and nearly 45 million fishing days, highlighting the importance of these lands for America’s sportsmen and women as well as the outdoor economy.
The Great American Outdoors Act also provides full and permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) at $900 million annually. LWCF is one of the most successful and influential conservation programs in our nation’s history. As a testament to the impact of LWCF, the program has completed a conservation, recreation, or access project in every single county in the country since its inception in 1964.
The final vote on the Great American Outdoors Act is expected to occur later this week. Be sure to follow CSF’s social media channels for further updates. CSF encourages sportsmen and women to urge a “yes” vote on final passage of the Great American Outdoors Act. Click here to contact your state Senators today!
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?