WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger — Chair of the House Agriculture Committee’s Conservation and Forestry Subcommittee — today voted with a strongly bipartisan majority of the U.S. House of Representatives to pass legislation that would grant full, permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).
The Spanberger-cosponsored Great American Outdoors Act would invest in America’s national parks and public lands and support American conservation long into the future. Since the LWCF began in 1965, Virginia has received more than $80 million in assistance, and more than 400 conservation and public lands projects have been made possible in the Commonwealth through the program. Although the LWCF is popular, Congress has rarely funded it at the legally permitted level. A historic, bipartisan lands package that became law in early 2019 permanently authorized LWCF to receive $900 million annually.
This bipartisan legislation would make sure the full $900 million is used every year to fund conservation and environmental protection projects on the ground. Additionally, the Great American Outdoors Act would establish a National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund, which would provide federal land management agencies with resources to address the $22 billion deferred maintenance backlog on U.S. public lands.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen the importance of having safe and accessible public lands as outdoor spaces in which to reflect and grow. We are all responsible for being stewards of these precious lands and keeping these natural treasures safe for generations to come, “ said Spanberger. “The Great American Outdoors Act both protects our nation’s priceless natural resources and supports the outdoor recreation economy — one of the fastest growing economic sectors in the United States. Here in Virginia, we have a proud, generations-long record of environmental stewardship, and this bipartisan bill redoubles our commitment to our public lands and the communities that rely on them. Today is also a reminder that permanent funding of the LWCF is the result of decades of hard-fought advocacy from conservation organizations, small businesses, and individuals in Virginia and across the country. Thanks to their work, we are one step closer to securing full funding for the LWCF.”
The Great American Outdoors Act is supported by more than 900 national, state, and local organizations and businesses — including the Virginia League of Conservation Voters, the Virginia Conservation Network, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Scenic Virginia, Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s, the National Park Foundation, the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable Association, the American Battlefield Trust, Patagonia, the Boat Owners Association of the United States, and the Land Trust Alliance.
Last year, Spanberger voted for a budget deal signed into law by the President that provided the LWCF with its highest funding level in 15 years.