EDGEFIELD, S.C. —In a final vote today, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Great American Outdoors Act, a bill that will provide permanent full funding for public land conservation and allow federal agencies to complete vital infrastructure maintenance. It now goes to the president for his signature.
The Great American Outdoors Act is significant for several reasons, but most importantly, it provides full and permanent funding to the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which conserves critical lands and helps to create access for hunters and other recreational users to landlocked public lands through its Making Public Lands Public provision.
“Hunters play a vital role in natural resource conservation, from funding the work to acting as important instruments in scientific wildlife management,” NWTF CEO Becky Humphries said. “Lack of access to public hunting land with good habitat and sustainable game populations is often noted as a reason hunters drop out of the tradition or potential new hunters just don’t try it. Ensuring access to bountiful lands is one component in turning around declining hunter numbers and encouraging more to seek the outdoors for organic protein and a healthy lifestyle.”
Addressing the maintenance backlog on these public lands is also a critical step in providing access for recreational use as well as to accomplish much-needed forest and habitat restoration work on USDA Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service lands. The Great American Outdoors Act provides up to $9.5 billion over five years to reduce this backlog through the establishment of the National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund.
“Congressional approval of the Great American Outdoors Act is a long-overdue boon for wildlife, hunters and other users that recreate and depend on public lands for their livelihoods,” said Joel Pedersen, NWTF director of Government Affairs. “We are proud of being able to influence some of the language that was included in the act and being a voice for conservation, the wild turkey and NWTF members, and we now encourage President Trump to sign this bill into law.”
About the National Wild Turkey Federation
When the National Wild Turkey Federation was founded in 1973, there were about 1.3 million wild turkeys in North America. After decades of work, that number hit a historic high of almost 7 million turkeys. To succeed, the NWTF stood behind science-based conservation and hunters' rights. Today, the NWTF is focused on the future of hunting and conservation through its Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative – a charge that mobilizes science, fundraising and devoted volunteers to conserve or enhance more than 4 million acres of essential wildlife habitat, recruit at least 1.5 million hunters and open access to 500,000 acres for hunting. For more information, visit NWTF.org.