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Richard Burr

06/17/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 06/17/2020 13:29

Burr Applauds Senate Passage of Historic, Bipartisan Conservation Bill

06.17.20

Today, the Senate passed the bipartisan Great American Outdoors Act, landmark conservation legislation that will fully and permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and address the deferred maintenance backlog for national parks and public lands across the country.

Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), a longtime champion of the LWCF who last year led a successful effort to permanently renew the program, applauded the Senate's passage of this historic conservation bill.

'Today is a great day for every American who loves the great outdoors and wants to protect them for future generations to enjoy,' said Senator Burr. 'The Land and Water Conservation Fund is a commonsense program that not only increases recreational access to public lands in every state, but does so at no cost to taxpayers. Last year, Congress finally recognized the importance of the LWCF by making the program permanent, but we were still missing one important thing: adequate funding. This legislation makes sure the program will permanently receive the small portion of offshore drilling receipts that allows it to work effectively - at no cost to taxpayers.

'From the Great Smoky Mountains to Cape Lookout National Seashore, North Carolina is home to many iconic treasures that have benefited from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. By permanently funding LWCF, we've ensured that these sites and thousands more across the country will be there for American families for generations to come. And this summer, as more Americans head to our national parks in a time of uncertainty, this sound investment will make sure our parks are ready to welcome them.'

Background:

The Department of Interior last week released its annual National Park Visitor Spending Effect report. The report found that 18.9 million park visitors spent approximately $1.4 billion in North Carolina in 2019, which supported a total of 21,600 jobs and added $2.1 billion in economic output in the North Carolina economy.

The Great American Outdoors Actwill build upon these strong economic contributions by improving access to public lands, creating jobs, and funding long overdue maintenance projects to ensure public lands remain an important contributor to state and local economies. Specifically, this legislation:

  • Provides $900 million per year in annual funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
  • Provides $1.9 billion per year for five years, totally $9.5 billion, for deferred maintenanceat the National Park Service, the United States Forest Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Bureau of Indian Education.
  • Supports more than five million jobs and contributes to $778 billion in national economic activity.

Senator Burr has long championed the permanent reauthorization of LWCF, a program that has a proven track record of success and contributes to more than 42,000 recreation projects since its founding in 1964. It operates at no cost to taxpayers, instead utilizing royalties earned from offshore oil and gas revenues.

Despite strong bipartisan support for LWCF, Congress allowed the program to expire on September 20, 2018. To respond to the lapsed program, Senators Burr and Michael Bennet (D-CO) reintroduced legislation to permanently reauthorize LWCF. In March 2019, the President signed into law the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, which included Senator Burr's legislation to make the popular LWCF program permanent.

Following the President's signature, Senator Burr joined a group of bipartisan Senators to introduce the Land and Water Conservation Fund Permanent Funding Act to go one step further to make sure the program has the permanent funding it needs to carry out its work. This legislation was included in the Great American Outdoors Act.