Landmark environmental legislation permanently funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund at the full level, invests millions in public lands and outdoor spaces across the Pacific Northwest
U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and co-founder of the United for Climate and Environmental Justice Task Force in Congress, voted to pass the Great American Outdoors Act today, sending the bill to President Donald Trump’s desk. A hard fought victory for public lands across America including in the Pacific Northwest, the bipartisan legislation permanently and fully funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF)—the largest source of conservation funding for many projects that improve outdoors spaces throughout the country. The legislation provides $900 million for the fund, nearly doubling what was allocated in recent years.
“At a time when we should be expanding—not shrinking—public lands and access to outdoor spaces, the Great American Outdoors Act makes full funding for the critical LWCF permanent while boldly investing in the parks, trails, waters and natural beauty that make our unique region of the country so special,” said Congresswoman Jayapal. “I’m proud to support this landmark environmental legislation and urge state and local governments to prioritize environmental justice by seizing this opportunity to invest in frontline communities, using a piece of this funding for projects in low-income communities and communities of color that too often lack access to green spaces and parks.”
The legislation would nearly eliminate a $12 billion National Park Services (NPS) maintenance backlog across the country. Around 70 percent of the funds will go to NPS—fixing roads, visitor centers and facilities—while additional funds are directed to the Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Indian Education. The funding could provide the resources needed to cover the $400 million in deferred maintenance at Olympic National Park and Mount Rainier.
The package could also create 100,000 jobs across America. Park tourism currently generates $21 billion in direct spending, supporting 340,000 jobs each year. In Washington, more than 200,000 jobs are already linked to outdoor recreation.
The legislation is also a victory for environmental justice at a time when 100 million Americans can’t find a playground or green space within 10 minutes from their home. The funding included in today’s bill could be invested in projects that focus on equity, such as increasing access to parks and green spaces for low-income communities and communities of color in urban areas that currently have limited access to such amenities.
Created in 1964, the LWCF is not funded through taxpayer dollars but by royalty payments from offshore oil and gas in federal waters with revenue set aside for state, local and tribal governments. It has supported more than 42,000 state and local projects in communities across the nation including at Gas Works Park in Seattle and Mount Rainier National Park in Washington.
The Great American Outdoors Act passed the U.S. Senate in June of this year.