Wexton Hails Passage of Great American Outdoors Act to Invest in Virginia’s Public Lands and Create Jobs
Washington, July 22, 2020
Washington, DC -- Today, Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) voted to pass the bipartisan Great American Outdoors Act, one of Congress’ most significant investments in environmental conservation in a generation. The legislation would direct much-needed funds to help address $337,178,843 in deferred maintenance costs at National Park sites in Virginia’s 10th District, and is estimated to help create or support more than 10,000 jobs throughout the commonwealth.
"This bipartisan legislation will spur much-needed growth during a time of deep economic uncertainty, provide opportunities for families to create lasting memories, and protect our environment all at the same time,” said Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton. “This bill will help address longstanding infrastructure needs – roads, bridges, and trails – like the George Washington Parkway in our district. It will benefit the public spaces our families cherish – places like Wolf Trap, Harper’s Ferry, and Manassas Battlefield Park. The bipartisan Great American Outdoors Act will be a historic investment in our families, our economy, and our public lands for generations to come."
"The Appalachian Trail Conservancy applauds Congress for passing the most important conservation bill in decades,” said Sandra Marra, President & CEO of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC). “By fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund and providing billions of dollars for deferred maintenance projects, the Great American Outdoors Act will enhance the safety and accessibility of public lands like the Appalachian Trail and ensure the legacy of outdoor spaces and experiences passes on to the next generation. We urge the President to sign this bill into law without delay."
"An enormous thanks to Congresswoman Wexton and the bipartisan coalition of sponsors for their leadership on the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act,” said Kate Wofford, Executive Director of the Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley. “Shenandoah Valley communities will reap the benefits from long overdue investments in Shenandoah National Park’s infrastructure. And the Land and Water Conservation Fund is the major source of funding to protect our remaining special places for now and future generations – well done."
The bill fully funds the successful and popular Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) at $900 million annually, well above its yearly average funding level. It also creates the National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund, which will 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. The funding is tied to royalties derived from energy extraction on public lands and waters.
The Great American Outdoors Act would help address the backlog of deferred maintenance costs at sites in Virginia’s 10th District, including: $293,494,667 at the George Washington Memorial Parkway; $498,101 at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park; $8,186,965 at Manassas National Battlefield Park; $823,242 at Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park; and $34,175,868 at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts.
Wexton has been a vocal advocate for additional funding to repair and maintain the GW Parkway, recently sending a letter to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao in support of the National Park Service’s grant application for $102 million in federal funds for the highway.
The LWCF is used to enhance and establish local, state, and national preservation areas, funding everything from local playgrounds to national park expansions.
The historic bipartisan lands package that became law in early 2019 permanently authorized the LWCF to receive $900 million annually. The Great American Outdoors Act would ensure that full amount is used each year to fund projects on the ground in communities across the country.
More information about state-by-state LWCF impacts is available here.
A fact sheet on the Great American Outdoors Act can be found here.