Restoring What’s Great About the Great American Outdoors

PERC's response to the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act

News For Immediate Release
June 22, 2020
Contact: Kat Dwyer, 406-587-9591, kdwyer@perc.org

(Bozeman, Montana) — Today we celebrate the passage of perhaps the most significant public lands conservation bill in a generation. The Great American Outdoors Act passed both the Senate and the House with bipartisan support. The bill is popular for its land-acquisition component, but what really makes this a landmark moment for public lands conservation is the bill’s creation of the National Parks and Public Lands Legacy Restoration Fund dedicating $9.5 billion of energy revenues to maintenance needs over the next five years. 

“As conservationists, it is our duty to take care of the land we already own. Our public lands have been neglected for too long, allowing for wastewater systems to fall into disrepair, historic buildings to deteriorate, and trails to be overgrown,” commented PERC CEO Brian Yablonski. “The Great American Outdoors Act is long overdue and will help us fulfill our duty as conservationists by restoring what’s great about our great American outdoors and ensuring ‘America’s best idea’ is no longer just an afterthought.”

PERC has long advocated for creative solutions to address the deferred maintenance backlog. We have been a key leader in informing policymakers on how to address this growing concern, with our scholars testifying before Congress on deferred maintenance and public lands funding issues five times in the past four years. Notably, Holly Fretwell, a PERC research fellow, testified before the Senate in support of the dedicated maintenance fund at the very first hearing on the topic in 2018.

The deferred maintenance backlog is a monumental problem in desperate need of creative solutions. Previous efforts to reduce the backlog have been inconsistent and have made only modest progress, but the Legacy Restoration Fund will provide dedicated, reliable funding for deferred maintenance projects not dependent on congressional appropriations.

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