Roughly $9.5 billion a year in federal funds over the next five years will be allocated to help the National Park Service pay for a wide variety of park facility needs according to legislation just passed by the U.S. Senate.
The Great American Outdoors Act was approved in the upper chamber on a bipartisan vote of 73 to 24, and, if passed in the House and signed into law by President Trump, will particularly target funding for repairing of park bathrooms and visitors centers.
Other projects to be funded include the upgrading of countless campgrounds, trails, and pothole-filled roads.
“This is an economic and jobs package as much as it is a conservation package,” Colorado Senator Cory Gardner, one of the principle sponsors of the legislation, said upon its passage.
New Mexico Senator Martin Heinrich also expressed his support for the legislation, noting that the many visitors who annually visit the country’s national parks may not be able to fully enjoy the experience if “the bathrooms don’t work, if the trails and campgrounds aren’t open, or if the roads are in disrepair.”
Added Heinrich: “These places that we all cherish deserve better.”
The legislation also mandates that the Land and Water Conservation Fund be financed to the tune of $900 million. That fund, established by Congress in 1964, invests revenue from offshore oil and gas leasing for park conservation and protection.
The Great Outdoors Act has won the support of both conservation and environmental groups, not to mention the endorsement of Theodore Roosevelt IV, the great grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt.
President Roosevelt launched the U.S. Forest Service system during his administration more than a century ago.
The legislation is now on its way to the House where it is expected to easily pass. President Trump has indicated that he will sign the legislation into law as soon as it arrives on his desk.
By Garry Boulard
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