Today, President Trump signed the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) into law, which may be considered one of the most significant land conservation laws passed in decades.
The legislation has two main impacts. First, the GAOA establishes a National Park and Public Lands Legacy Restoration Fund that will provide up to $9 billion over the next five years to fix deferred maintenance at national parks, wildlife refuges, forests, and other federal lands, with $6.5 billion earmarked specifically to the 419 national parks.
Second, the GAOA permanently funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) by guaranteeing approximately $900 million per year in perpetuity. The LWCF is a flagship conservation program established in 1964 and paid for by royalty payments from offshore oil and gas drilling in federal waters. The LWCF is especially important because it helps fund the four main federal land programs (National Parks, National Forests, Fish and Wildlife, and Bureau of Land Management) and provides grants to state and local governments to acquire land for recreation and conservation.
Although not a panacea, the GAOA will in effect help to safeguard the national park system and other public lands.