WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) on Wednesday applauded Senate passage of the Great American Outdoors Act. The bipartisan legislation, which passed by a vote of 73-25, fully and permanently funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) at $900 million per year. The LWCF is the main federal program to ensure protection of and access to our public lands. The Great American Outdoors Act will also address our nearly $12 billion repair backlog in National Parks and on other public lands by directing up to $9.5 billion over five years to address maintenance needs within the National Park System. The legislation now heads to the U.S. House of Representatives, and President Trump has signaled he would sign this bill into law.
“Today is big win for our public lands. The Great American Outdoors Act fully funds the Land and Water Conservation fund which is critical to preserving Connecticut’s public parks, restoring our aging park facilities and infrastructure, and creating good jobs. This bill also funds much needed outdoor infrastructure programs in urban communities in our state, so everyone can access the outdoors. Good things happen when Congress puts politics aside, and this bill is evidence of that,” said Murphy.
LWCF is a critical tool to protect iconic landscapes, recreation areas, wetlands, and wildlife refuges in Connecticut and has funded over $60 million in conservation projects across the state since the program was created in 1965. As the threats from climate change become more severe, providing permanent funding for LWCF will help Connecticut mitigate and adapt to those shifts. In addition, with aging park facilities and decreased visitation revenue, this bill will help address the deferred maintenance backlog of $2.3 million at Connecticut's National Park sites.