Gardner, Daines propose bipartisan Great American Outdoors Act

U.S. Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Steve Daines (R-MT) on March 9 introduced a bipartisan bill to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and decrease the multibillion-dollar maintenance backlog plaguing America’s national parks and forests.

“Yesterday I introduced the Great American Outdoors Act to fully and permanently #FundLWCF,” tweeted Sen. Gardner on March 10. “This bipartisan legislation will ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy our public lands for many years to come.”

Sen. Gardner sponsored S. 3422 with 54 cosponsors, including Sen. Daines and U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) to establish, fund and provide for a National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund, which would address the almost $12 billion maintenance backlog of the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service, and the U.S. Bureau of Indian Education, according to the congressional record bill summary.

The legislation also would provide permanent, dedicated funding of $900 million for the LWCF, according to the summary.

“The LWCF supports projects in Colorado and all across our country at no cost to the taxpayer, and fighting every year to figure out how much money the program will receive doesn’t provide the long-term planning certainty that our outdoor and conservation community deserves,” Sen. Gardner said.

Sen. Daines called S. 3422 a “historic bipartisan effort.”

“I thank President Trump for his support in getting this done and I look forward to working with my colleagues to get this historic conservation win signed into law,” said Sen. Daines, referencing a meeting he and Sen. Gardner had last week with the president and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), at which Trump agreed to support and sign the bipartisan, bicameral Land and Water Conservation Fund Permanent Funding Act, S. 1081/H.R. 3195.

Sens. Daines, Gardner, and Manchin in April 2019 cosponsored the Senate bill, S. 1081, which is likely to be incorporated into the newly introduced S. 3422.