Report from “MIDCURRENT Fly Fishing” website (USA)
Yesterday, (July 23, 2020) the USA’s House approved the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) with a resounding vote of 310–107.
Its passage ensures full and permanent funding – $900 million annually – for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), and also dedicates another $9.5 billion over the next five years to tackle maintenance backlogs in the USA’s National Parks and other public lands and waters. The bill now goes to the president’s desk for his signature.
“Conservation victories do not come any bigger than this,” said Ben Bulis, President and CEO of the American Fly Fishing Trade Association. “With full, dedicated and permanent funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, we have ensured that the foundation of our industry’s livelihood will only be stronger from this generation forward. Passage of the Great American Outdoors Act will safeguard the public lands and waters that we rely on for our outdoor pursuits, and that define our uniquely American landscape. This land is your land. This win is your win. We thank our congressional leaders for listening, taking action and making sure this landmark legislation reached the president’s desk.”
The LWCF was created in 1964 and is funded entirely by royalties from offshore oil and gas drilling, not a single penny of taxpayers’ money. Its purpose was to support the conservation of our nation’s public lands and waters. Over the 50-plus years of its existence every county in every state in the country has benefitted from LWCF dollars—however, only twice in its 50-plus years has it been fully funded.
“Sportsmen and women who have spoken out for years in support of the LWCF and against the chronic underfunding of our public lands agencies should be very proud to be a part of this historic win for public lands, fish and wildlife habitat, and our hunting and fishing access,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “These issues don’t make the front page every day, which is all the more reason to celebrate the willingness of our lawmakers to prioritize the Great American Outdoors Act with a spirit of urgency and bipartisanship.
“Nearly every county in every state has benefitted in some way from LWCF funds,” said Chris Wood, president and CEO of Trout Unlimited. “Brook trout in Maine, wild rainbows on the Upper Delaware, lake trout on the Boundary Waters – all have benefitted from LWCF funding. LWCF has made possible access to fabled fisheries such as the Letort Spring Run in Pennsylvania and Black Earth Creek, the Gateway to the Driftless Area. Less discussed, but equally important, is the funding in the bill that will allow our partners at the Park Service, Forest Service and BLM to begin to get ahead of their maintenance backlogs. Today is a great day for anglers and hunters!”