06.17.20

Daines Secures Historic Senate Passage of Major Conservation Bill, the Great American Outdoors Act

Bill Provides Full, Mandatory Funding of LWCF, Addresses Maintenance Backlog of Public Lands, National Parks

U.S. SENATE – U.S. Senator Steve Daines today voted for and secured Senate passage of his bipartisan bill, the Great American Outdoors Act. Daines’ bill requires full, mandatory funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and addresses the maintenance backlog facing the nation’s national parks and public lands.

  

GAOA FINAL PASSAGE

 

Click HERE to download the video.

“Today, we passed the most important conservation bill for Montana and the nation in decades - one that will increase public access to our public lands, support our national parks and importantly, protect our Montana outdoor way of life,” Daines said. “I look forward to seeing it pass the House and getting it onto President Trump’s desk for his signature.”

Ahead of the vote, Daines spoke on the Senate floor highlighting the importance of the bill.

 

GAOA FINAL SPEECH

Click HERE to watch the full speech.

“Today, we make history in the United States Senate. Today, we will vote on one of the most important conservation bills not in years, but in decades. Today, we get one step closer to protecting our outdoor heritage for our children, and grandchildren… for future generations of Montanans and for all Americans,” Daines said. “Today, we will vote on the historic, bipartisan bill, the “Great American Outdoors Act.” Today, for the first time ever in the United States Senate, we will vote to make funding for a critical conservation program, the Land and Water Conservation Program, full and mandatory.”

Daines received significant support from conservation, sportsmen and public lands advocate groups across Montana and the country for his work on GAOA, including from: MT Nature Conservancy, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, MT Lodging and Hospitality Association, MT Wildlife Federation, MT Wilderness Society, Montana Outdoor Legacy Foundation, Glacier County Tourism, MT Trout Unlimited, MT Contractors Association, MT Association of Land Trusts, and Mountain Bike Missoula.

Click HERE to read a list of statements of support from stakeholders.

Last month, Daines announced that the U.S. Senate will be voting on his bipartisan bill, the Great American Outdoors Act, when the Senate returns from the state working period in June. Daines’ bill requires full, mandatory funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and addresses the national park maintenance backlog.

In February, Daines met with President Trump and Leader McConnell to highlight the importance of these conservation priorities for Montana. During the meeting, President Trump agreed to support and sign Daines’ legislation into law.

Daines’ Great American Outdoors Act provides full, mandatory funding of LWCF at $900 million and addresses the approximate $12 billion maintenance backlog facing national parks across the nation, including over $700 million in Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks. The bill also addresses the maintenance backlog on forest lands and other public lands across the country.  

Background: 

Daines is the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on National Parks. Daines sits on the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee and the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee which have jurisdiction over LWCF.

Daines was the only member of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee last year to voice his disappointment with LWCF’s funding levels.

Daines has been a leading voice in the U.S. Senate for LWCF funding and protection of our public lands. In 2015, Daines was hailed as a “Conservative Conservationist” for his strong support of conservation policies.

Last year, under Daines’ leadership in the U.S. Senate, President Trump signed into law a historic bipartisan public lands package which included the permanent authorization of LWCF.

 In December of 2019, President Trump signed into law the highest level of funding of LWCF since 2003 at $495 million.

In March, President Trump issued statements supporting Daines’ work on LWCF, and commitment to sign legislation into law. Leader McConnell also issued a supportive statement of Daines’ work.

Daines recent actions this Congress include: 

On March 9th, 2020, Daines introduced a bipartisan bill, the Great American Outdoors Act, which will provide full, mandatory funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and address the maintenance backlog in our national parks and forests. The introduction of the legislation follows a meeting Daines held with President Trump and Leader McConnell to secure their support for the historic conservation effort.

On March 4th, 2020, Daines announced new legislation that will provide full, mandatory funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and address the maintenance backlog in our national parks.

 On November 19th, 2019, Daines advanced a slate of key Montana priorities out of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee including bipartisan bills that permanently and fully fund LWCF and help fix the maintenance backlog issue facing national parks.

On October 31st, 2019, Daines secured and advanced a $30 million increase in funding for the LWCF out of the U.S. Senate, which would bring the fund to $465 million.

On September 17th, 2019, Daines wrote Senate and House leadership urging full and permanent funding for LWCF.

On September 5th, 2019, Daines announced that $1,611,602 in grants from LWCF will be directed towards Montana to support public access, outdoor recreation and conservation projects.

On May 5th, 2019, Daines wrote a letter to U.S. Senate Interior Appropriations Committee Leadership urging the full funding of the LWCF and to build on momentum for stronger funding in the Senate bill.

On March 12th, 2019, Daines joined President Trump in the White House for the signing of a historic bipartisan lands package which included the permanent reauthorization of LWCF and the Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act. 

On February 26th, 2019, House leadership responded to Daines’ request and passed the public lands package with critical Montana wins.

On February 12th, 2019, Daines secured Senate passage of the landmark bipartisan public lands package that includes permanent reauthorization of LWCF, and the Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act among other provisions important to conservation and public access to public lands.

On February 14th, 2019, Daines secured a $10 million increase for LWCF, bringing funding for the program to $435 million for 2019.

On January 30th, 2019, Daines successfully convinced Senate leadership to bring the public lands package up for a vote in early in the 116th Congress.                                             

To learn more about Senator Daines’ efforts to protect our public lands and promote outdoor recreation, click HERE