Statement: U.S. House passes major public lands bill

The landmark Great American Outdoors Act now heads to the White House
For Immediate Release

WASHINGTON – The U.S. House of Representatives voted Wednesday to pass the Great American Outdoors Act, a bill to permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) at $900 million annually and provide $9.5 billion over five years to fix maintenance problems that are plaguing America’s public lands. With a final vote of 310 to 107, the bill garnered considerable bipartisan support, and now heads to the President’s desk. 

Alongside other environmental organizations, hunting and fishing groups, outdoor recreation businesses and more, Environment New Mexico and Environment America have prioritized the LWCF, America’s best conservation and recreation program, for years. Utilizing billboards in several states; lawn signs and banners; a steady series of op-eds; and a continual presence on Capitol Hill and in congressional districts, we have urged lawmakers to invest in America’s great outdoors. 

Environment New Mexico has hosted events to support full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund at Petroglyph National Park with Congresswoman Deb Haaland and online with Congresswoman Xochitl Torres Small, who introduced the Great American Outdoors Act in the House.

In response to the House’s vote, Environment America’s Acting President Wendy Wendlandt released the following statement: 

 “The Great American Outdoors Act  embraces what we all know to be true: protecting and enhancing our public lands is an essential part of the American ethos. By locking in $900 million a year for outdoor projects, plus providing a short-term infusion of money to address maintenance issues, the House is reaffirming that commitment to the natural world.

“Whether it’s local parks and hiking trails or national parks or forests, Americans love and utilize public lands. This bill is not only an investment in outdoor spaces but also in our health and psyche. 

“With today’s passage of this bill, we’re one step away from putting a lock and key on funding that has always been intended for conservation projects -- yet consistently diverted to other purposes. We’re closer to adopting a new consciousness  for today’s world -- that our lives are made richer if surrounded by more nature, rather than more extracted resources. 

“We applaud the House’s bipartisan passage of the Great American Outdoors Act, and ask that President Trump sign this important bill.” 

Environment New Mexico’s State Director John Ammondson also released the following statement: 

“New Mexicans treasure our public lands, and today’s House vote is an important step forward for protecting and preserving them for generations to come. The Land and Water Conservation Fund has helped establish and expand public lands across New Mexico, from the Organ Mountains- Desert Peaks National Monument to Petroglyph National Monument, and full, permanent funding for LWCF will help build on these successes and support conservation projects across the state and across the country. 

We thank New Mexico’s House delegation for their strong support of the Great American Outdoors Act, and urge the President to sign this crucial legislation into law.” 

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Environment New Mexico works for clean air, clean water, clean energy, wildlife and open spaces, and a livable climate. Our members across the state put grassroots support behind our research and advocacy. Environment New Mexico is part of Environment America, a national network of 29 state environmental groups.