Larsen: Great American Outdoors Act Critical to Environmental Conservation, Jobs in Washington State
Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02) voted for the Great American Outdoors Act, bipartisan legislation to permanently, fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and help address the growing repair and maintenance backlog at national parks and public lands. The bill passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 310 to 107.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02) voted for the Great American Outdoors Act, bipartisan legislation to permanently, fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and help address the growing repair and maintenance backlog at national parks and public lands. The bill passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 310 to 107.
“From the San Juan Islands to Snohomish County, a healthy environment is vital to Northwest Washingtonians’ way of life and the regional economy,” said Larsen, a cosponsor of the Great American Outdoors Act. “For more than 50 years, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has been the cornerstone of environmental conservation, helping preserve Washington state’s public lands and waters. This bipartisan bill is a long-term investment in the vitality of wildlife, wilderness areas and green spaces for the use and enjoyment of current and future generations.”
The Great American Outdoors Act permanently, fully funds the LWCF at $900 million annually, well above its yearly average funding level. Over the last 52 years, Washington state has received more than $675 million from the LWCF to help protect and restore green spaces, including Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve, Chuckanut Bay and the Wild Sky Wilderness in the Second District.
The bill also establishes the National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund, to provide funding to the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Indian Education to fix buildings, trails, roads and other public infrastructure in need of repair for the next five years. In 2018, the National Park Service identified more than $427 million in deferred maintenance needs at Washington state’s national parks and lands, including more than $4.2 million at Ebey’s Landing and more than $5 million at San Juan Island National Historical Park.
According to the Outdoor Industry Association, outdoor recreation plays a significant role in rural economies and for local businesses in the Second District, and is responsible for an estimated 201,000 jobs and $26.2 billion in annual spending in Washington state.
Larsen is a longtime champion of the LWCF and the vital investment the Fund provides to communities in Northwest Washington. Last year, Larsen voted to permanently reauthorize the LWCF.
For a summary of the Great American Outdoors Act, click here.
For a map of LWCF-funded projects in Washington state, click here.
For information about how the bill’s funding mechanisms work and how money will be distributed per year, click here.