From the beginning of this Administration, President Trump has prioritized conservation and stewardship of our public lands and national parks. Today, President Trump signed into law the Great American Outdoors Act. This historic legislation, along with the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act—which President Trump signed into law in March 2019—will benefit current and future generations of Americans.
Each year, millions of people from all over the world visit and enjoy our national parks. Yet today, more than 5,500 miles of paved roads, 17,000 miles of trails, and 24,000 buildings in our national parks are in need of maintenance improvements.
Fulfilling President Trump’s promise to restore, conserve, and protect America’s lands, the Great American Outdoors Act provides the necessary funds, dedicating up to $1.9 billion per year for five years to fund deferred maintenance projects identified by the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Bureau of Indian Education. These infrastructure updates will preserve our most important national treasures and give more American families opportunities to explore the great outdoors.
When I was growing up, my family took road trips each summer, crossing through nearly every state and stopping at many national parks along the way, from Yosemite, Glacier, and Yellowstone in the west, to the Badlands and Theodore Roosevelt National Park in the Dakotas, to the Great Smoky Mountains and Shenandoah National Park in the east. When we explore the outdoors and see our magnificent mountain ranges, coastlines, deserts, forests and great open spaces, we develop a deeper appreciation for the beauty and importance of our natural environment.
In addition to improving infrastructure at our national parks, the Great American Outdoors Act also provides permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The LWCF supports recreational access, protection, and preservation of our Nation’s most valuable natural and cultural resources. Supporting over 98 percent of counties across the country, the LWCF grants enable State and local governments to develop and improve parks in their communities, as well as permanently conserve outdoor recreation areas for public use and enjoyment.
This legislation signed today is not just about outdoor recreation. In signing the Great American Outdoors Act, President Trump is protecting and enhancing the economies of numerous gateway communities that surround our national parks and wildlife reserves. By bringing more visitors to our parks, the Great American Outdoors Act will stimulate local businesses across the country. Again, President Trump is proving that a strong economy and a healthy environment go hand-in-hand.
Now more than ever, Americans are seeking to get outside and experience our national parks and national wildlife refuge systems. The Great American Outdoors Act will ensure that these national treasures can be explored for generations to come. As Chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, I will continue to support the President as he works to restore, preserve, and protect American’s lands, air, and water.
By Mary B. Neumayr, Chairman of CEQ