On Wednesday, Representative Derek Kilmer (WA-06) voted to support the Great American Outdoors Act, legislation that advances Rep. Kilmer’s long-standing priority of permanently and fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), and providing funding to address priority repair needs in America’s national parks.
“Growing up on the Olympic Peninsula, I learned how important protecting and supporting our parks and our public lands is to driving tourism, growing jobs, and supporting rural economies,” said Rep. Kilmer. “I’m proud that this bill is advancing two huge priorities that I have led to support our region: permanently funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and providing dedicated funding to address the much-needed repairs at Olympic National Park and throughout our National Park system. I’ve been working for years to ensure the incredible natural assets in our region can continue to provide amazing visitor experiences and serve as economic drivers for rural communities for future generations. I was proud to vote for this bill.”
“Passage of the Great American Outdoors Act is a huge step forward for conservation. Congressman Kilmer has been a tireless advocate for addressing the infrastructure needs on our public lands and for the rural communities that are the lifeblood of our state’s outdoor recreation economy,” said Mike Stevens, Washington state director for The Nature Conservancy. “He has stood up for the Land and Water Conservation Fund at every turn, and we are grateful for his leadership role in today’s historic vote for people and nature.”
“The Great American Outdoors Act is a huge win for Washingtonians,” said Rob Smith, Northwest Regional Director, National Parks Conservation Association. “It will bring jobs to fix trails, roads and water lines in special places like Olympic National Park and it will protect outdoor spaces to enjoy for generations to come.”
The Great American Outdoors Act will fully and permanently fund the LWCF, which provides matching grants to help states leverage their own funds to establish local, state, and national preservation areas and outdoor recreation facilities. This will help Washingtonians enjoy safe recreational facilities, while preserving and protecting public lands. According to the LWCF Coalition, LWCF has invested over $675 million over the past five decades to protect Washington’s iconic outdoor places, open access for hunting, fishing, hiking, and other outdoor activities, and build close to home parks. For example, through LWCF grants, the City of Bremerton enhanced Blueberry Park and protected seven acres of wetlands. In Port Angeles, the fund contributed to building a new playground in Shane Park.
The legislation also creates new dedicated funding to address the significant maintenance backlog facing Olympic National Park and the nation’s other public lands, which are extraordinary economic drivers that contribute billions to Washington’s economy. Rep. Kilmer has long advocated for solutions to address this issue – leading bipartisan legislation to fix the maintenance backlog. The new National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund established in the Great American Outdoors Act will provide funding to the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Indian Education to fix buildings, trails, roads and other public infrastructure in need of repair for the next five years. Rep. Kilmer previously wrote about the importance of this funding in the Seattle Times.
According to the Outdoor Industry Association, Washington’s $26.2 billion outdoor recreation industry supports 201,000 jobs, which generate $7.6 billion in wages and salaries and produces $2.3 billion annually in state and local tax revenue.
The legislation, which has already passed the Senate, now moves to the President’s desk for signature.