Enactment of the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) represents the single greatest financial commitment to our nation’s sportsmen and women in a lifetime and accomplishes a number of long-standing priorities for the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF).
GAOA, a generational piece of bipartisan legislation, provides $9.5 billion over 5 years to address the deferred maintenance backlog on federal public lands and waters with roughly $3 billion set aside to restore the infrastructure on lands and waters that are most important to sportsmen and women. Deferred maintenance is the result of an unpaid debt due to long-standing budget shortfalls, increased usage, and aging facilities. GAOA finally addresses this unpaid debt by providing unprecedented funding for the completion of restoration projects such as visitor facilities, impassible roads, or boat ramps in need of repair.
Specifically, the National Park Service (NPS) will be allocated $6.5 billion and $3 billion will be allocated to the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Bureau of Indian Education (BIE). CSF has played a leading role in ensuring that maintenance funding for USFS, USFWS, and BLM lands was included in GAOA. This is critically important for America’s sportsmen and women as these public lands and waters annually support more than 25 million hunting days and 45 million fishing days.
Additionally, GAOA will provide permanent and dedicated funding to the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) at $900 million annually. To date, LWCF has provided over $17.5 billion in funding for over 40,000 recreation and conservation projects spanning across every county in the country. Despite the strong success of LWCF, the program has rarely received funding in the amount that Congress intended when creating this program, but GAOA addresses this issue by providing permanent and full funding to the program.
3 Key Provisions:
- Addressing Maintenance Backlog and Increasing Access: Our nation faces a nearly a $20 billion dollar maintenance backlog on federally managed public lands and this legislation will be a monumental step forward to providing our land managers with the necessary resources to address this issue so that America’s public lands can be enjoyed by sportsmen and women. This provision will not only increase access for sportsmen and women but will also provide over 100,000 near-immediate jobs.
- Full Funding for LWCF: The Great American Outdoors Act, in conjunction with S. 47, the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, that was passed last year, will provide LWCF the opportunity to operate at full capacity to help expand public access to lands and waters that are currently inaccessible to the public.
- Funds CSF’s Making Public Lands Public Initiative: 3% or $15 million - whichever is greater - of LWCF funds be made available for the purpose of securing additional public access for hunting, fishing, recreational shooting, and other outdoor-related activities. This provision, a CSF initiative, will help provide access to the nearly 10 million acres of inaccessible federal public land.
30 Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Members sponsored S. 3422
What CSF is Doing
CSF played a leading role in securing the Congressional passage and signing into law of this legislation as demonstrated by CSF’s attendance at the White House signing ceremony.
Prior to signing into law, CSF led the effort to secure a dedicated percentage of funds, roughly $3 billion, to be made available in this legislation to increase access for sportsmen and women. CSF was successful in their effort to secure the inclusion of non-NPS lands that are important to sportsmen and women, such as National Wildlife Refuges, National Forests, and BLM lands.
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