Friday, July 28, 2023
- Department of the Interior marks Great American Outdoors Act’s third anniversary.
- For 2024, 56 proposed projects expected to support 17,500 jobs, generate $1.9 billion.
- Entrance fees waived on August 4 at Interior Department-managed lands.
- National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund provides $1.6 billion per year.
- Fund’s support ends after fiscal year 2025, needs Congress reauthorization.
- 276 deferred maintenance projects funded since 2021, improving over 2,200 assets.
- Act funds Land and Water Conservation Fund permanently at $900 million annually.
- The Act benefits over 2,200 students and faculty in BIE-funded schools yearly.
- The Act has supported maintenance and training programs.
Unedited Press Release Text:
Interior Department Celebrates Great American Outdoors Act Anniversary with Fee-Free Day on Public Lands
Anniversary kicks off month-long tour to celebrate investments in improving infrastructure, safety and accessibility
WASHINGTON — On Friday, August 4, the Department of the Interior will commemorate the three-year anniversary of the signing of the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA), a bipartisan investment that improves visitor experiences, bolsters climate resilience, and invests in the economy by creating good-paying jobs in our national parks, wildlife refuges, recreation areas, and Bureau of Indian Education (BIE)-funded schools.
Since 2021, GAOA projects have supported an average of 17,000 jobs and generated an average of $1.8 billion for local economies annually. For fiscal year 2024, Interior proposed 56 projects that are expected to support more than 17,500 jobs and generate over $1.9 billion for the economy. For fiscal year 2024, Interior proposed 56 projects that are expected to support more than 17,500 jobs and generate over $1.9 billion for the economy.
In recognition of GAOA’s contributions to our nation’s public lands, entrance fees will be waived on August 4 at all lands managed by the Department. Other fees, such as overnight camping, cabin rentals, group day use and use of special areas, remain in effect.
The celebration of GAOA’s anniversary will also launch a month-long tour by Department leaders across the country to visit GAOA projects on public lands. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland will travel to Yosemite National Park to see first-hand how GAOA funding has helped bolster critical water, electrical, camping and housing infrastructure across the park.
“The Great American Outdoors Act ensures that our public lands are safe and accessible for all visitors and staff by investing billions of dollars in infrastructure projects. I was proud to co-sponsor this historic law, which provides critical investments in our public lands to ensure they are ready to meet the challenges of climate change, while boosting the American economy by creating good-paying jobs,” said Secretary Haaland. “As our public lands continue to meet increased visitation, GAOA complements President Biden’s Investing in America agenda to strengthen our infrastructure and prepare it to meet future needs.”
The GAOA established the National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund (GAOA LRF) to provide deferred maintenance and repairs at critical facilities on public lands and at BIE-funded schools. At no additional cost to taxpayers, the GAOA LRF provides $1.6 billion per year to Interior for projects at recreation facilities, dams, water and utility infrastructure, schools, and other historic structures. Other projects increase public access by improving accessibility features, and restoring and repairing roads, trails, bridges and parking areas. GAOA’s LRF funding sunsets after fiscal year 2025 and would need to be reauthorized by Congress to continue the efforts underway to address significant infrastructure needs across public lands.
Since the GAOA’s initial implementation in 2021, the Interior Department has funded 276 deferred maintenance projects, improving the condition of more than 2,200 assets in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and multiple U.S. territories. These projects increase visitor and employee safety, address accessibility, and support conservation, recreation, and education opportunities for future generations.
GAOA LRF is also training the next generation of workers by collaborating with youth corps and funding Maintenance Action Teams, teams of federal employees who mobilize regionally to work on smaller scope construction, demolition, rehabilitation and preservation, and provide training and apprenticeship opportunities to the youth.
The law also helps the Department uphold its commitment to Indigenous communities. Over 2,200 students and faculty benefit from GAOA LRF’s improvements to BIE-funded schools annually. By helping ensure BIE-funded schools are operational and safe, including by modernizing educational facilities and housing, GAOA LRF creates a better and safer learning environment for Indigenous youth.
In addition to funding deferred maintenance projects, the GAOA also provides full and permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) at $900 million annually. Congress established the LWCF in 1964 to fulfill a bipartisan commitment to safeguard the nation’s natural areas, water resources and cultural heritage, and to provide recreation opportunities to all Americans. Since its inception in 1965, LWCF has funded $5.2 billion to support more than 45,000 projects in every county in the country.
These efforts play a key role in delivering on President Biden’s economic agenda and “Bidenomics” strategy. The Biden-Harris administration is growing the American economy from the middle out and bottom up – from rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure, to driving over $500 billion in private sector manufacturing and clean energy investments in the United States, to creating good paying jobs that will combat climate change and make our communities more resilient.
Visit Interior’s Great American Outdoors Act website to learn more about how Interior is leveraging this historic investment.