US Senate to Vote on Great American Outdoors Act in June

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced recently that the Senate will take up the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) when it resumes work in June.

This legislation would fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable announced, as well as address the $20 billion maintenance backlog on America’s public lands and waters. ORR led the effort to include funding for agencies like the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management in the bill. Earlier this month, ORR sent a letter to Congressional leadership, signed by all 31 national recreation associations, urging swift passage of GAOA. According to ORR, its members were integral to the movement of this legislation and will continue to lead as the group encourages all members to swiftly pass this legislation that will create resilient communities and economies.

The Outdoor Recreation Roundtable shared an update about the upcoming Senate vote this past week. The ORR has worked to lobby on behalf of outdoor recreation businesses, including RV dealers and campsites, during the coronavirus pandemic.

“During this difficult time for the outdoor industry, one bright spot has been Americans’ increased appreciation for time spent outside. A major congressional proposal that could help our nation’s economy, jobs and rural communities come back from this pandemic, and Americans safely experience all the outdoors has to offer, is the Great American Outdoors Act,” said Jessica (Wahl) Turner, executive director of Outdoor Recreation Roundtable. “We appreciate all of the Senate sponsors’ efforts, and ORR member’s support, to secure this vital vote on GAOA in early June. We urge all congressional members who care about small businesses, resilient communities and healthy people to vote for this legislation.”

ORR announced it is grateful for the bipartisan effort to secure a vote for GAOA. The vote has support from Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Steve Daines (R-MT), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Angus King (I-ME), Rob Portman (R-OH), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Mark Warner (D-VA), and more.

“As Americans across the country emerge from stay at home orders, there is an intense desire to get back to our cherished national lands. The Great American Outdoors Act offers innovative solutions and sustainable funding that will address the deferred maintenance backlog and ensure the safety and enjoyment for Americans today and decades to come,” said RV Industry Association Vice President Jay Landers. “Campgrounds on federal lands are currently showing distressing signs of wear: crumbling roads and bridges; deferred maintenance needs; and limited camping availability, jeopardizing not only the RV industry but the entire outdoor recreation industry. We are grateful to the leadership of Senators Gardner, Daines, Manchin, Heinrich and more to address the needs of our public lands and support outdoor recreation.”

“The Great American Outdoors Act strikes the critical balance of expanding outdoor recreation access and conserving our nation’s public lands and waters – issues that are top of mind for millions of Americans who go boating each year,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association. “Thanks to the unwavering support and leadership from Senator Cory Gardner and Senator Joe Manchin, this historic legislation is on the verge of becoming the law of the land, and we encourage Congress to pass this commonsense measure in short order.”

“The outdoor industry applauds the U.S. Senate for seizing the opportunity to pass the Great American Outdoors Act, a landmark piece of bipartisan legislation,” said Lise Aangeenbrug, Outdoor Industry Association executive director. “Along with the social and health benefits that being outdoors provides, there is also a strong economic case for doing this now. The outdoors are bipartisan, and investing in LWCF means investing in local economies and creating thousands of jobs – both of which we desperately need right now to help the country bounce back from COVID-19.”

“We are very thankful to Senators Cory Gardner, Steve Daines, Michael Bennet, Joe Manchin and others for their efforts to get the Great American Outdoors Act passed,” said Erik Pritchard, president and CEO of the Motorcycle Industry Council, the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America, and the Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association. “Having access to outdoor recreation, including riding trails for dirt bikes, ATVs, and side-by-sides, is immensely beneficial for the physical and mental well-being of Americans — especially in these times. As public lands reopen, we need to have responsible planning and adequate infrastructure, which the GAOA would address, so visitors can enjoy the outdoors safely.”

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