On June 17, The Great American Outdoors Act (S. 3422), introduced by Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), was passed in the U.S. Senate by a vote of 73-25. This bipartisan legislation would help address the $20 billion deferred maintenance backlog in the Department of the Interior, $12 billion of which is accumulated by the National Park Service, creating thousands of construction jobs in the process.
The bill now heads to the U.S. House of Representatives, where it, if approved and further signed into law, will create the National Parks and Public Lands Legacy Fund, which would direct up to $9.5 billion in nontaxpayer funds over the next five years to improve infrastructure within the NPS and other agencies with significant deferred maintenance backlog, much of which is related to transportation assets. ABC sent a letter to the House urging the swift consideration and approval of the legislation.
A 2019 Pew Research Center-commissioned report by the Cadmus Group found that addressing the NPS’ nearly $12 billion maintenance backlog would create or support an estimated 108,364 construction jobs. This increase in construction demand would deliver much-needed jobs to the construction industry, which shed nearly 1 million jobs in April due to the coronavirus before adding back more than 460,000 in May.
The Great American Outdoors Act would also ensure full, dedicated funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which would permanently secure the financial integrity of one of the most important public land conservation programs while bolstering the $778 billion outdoor recreation economy.
ABC will continue to update members on this legislation in Newsline.