The Great American Outdoors Act: What You Can Expect to See in 2020

Spending time in nature offers a wide range of benefits for casual outdoor enthusiasts and businesses alike.

The Great American Outdoors Act is a law designed to encourage healthy, more accessible recreation for everyone. It applies to every part of the country.

So, what can you expect to see from the GAOA in 2020? Read on to find out more about this monumental law and some potential upcoming changes.

What is the Great American Outdoors Act?

The Great American Outdoors Act fully and permanently funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund. It also funnels money to restore and improve the nation's national parks. This bill was signed into law by President Trump on August 4, 2020.

The monumental legislation takes money from energy development and puts it toward maintaining vital natural resources. It will also improve various facilities and infrastructures. This includes America's national parks, wildlife refuges, forests, and recreation areas. It also includes American Indian Schools.

Estimates are that revenue from this energy development will provide up to $1.9 billion per year for five years. It will also utilize royalties from offshore and natural gas to provide permanent funds to the Land and Water Conservation Fund at an amount of approximately $900 million per year.

These new investments will help promote more robust conservation and provide more outdoor recreational opportunities throughout the United States. With over 325 million visitors coming to national parks, this bill will provide much-needed infrastructure to keep up with the demand.

National Parks should see improvements in campgrounds, picnic areas, roads, trails, and many other aspects of crucial infrastructure that need attention. In the future, there will be more specific details about projects that will be funded through the bill.

Why is This Bill Important?

The nation's national parks have seen a 50-percent increase in visitor volume since 1980. With more Americans spending time outside, it's become difficult for the parks to keep up with the demand.

Although more visitors can bring more revenue to surrounding towns, the national park's budget has remained stagnant until the Great American Outdoors Act was passed. Some money will also go toward the Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Now, more money can go toward improving roadways, enhancing trails, and offering people a wider range of outdoor recreation opportunities. The bill also helps provide funding to improve public restrooms at national parks and recreation areas that have been in dire need of repair for years.

As a hiker, this bill will provide better access to trails and more enjoyable experiences while visiting parks, woodlands, and other public outdoor areas. Many locations throughout the country have been in need of maintenance for years. The new funding will go toward updating the necessary components that are crucial to participating in safe outdoor recreation.

With the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act, twice as much funding will be provided to expand America's public land. This means people will gain more access to forests and other natural areas to bike, fish, hike, and enjoy being in nature.

It also provides more funding to grants that help the Forest Legacy Program. This program offers private forest owners the resources they need to protect these forests via conservation easements.

Future Possibilities

In addition to providing money to national parks, trails, and more, the GAOA may help to promote another piece of legislation. The REPLANT Act was introduced by the House and Senate to help improve the U.S. Forest Service's Reforestation Trust Fund.

The current fund has a cap that if lifted, would quadruple the funding annually available to the U.S. Forest Service. More money would allow the organization to reforest our national forests and plant new trees.

As forests die and burn at incredibly alarming rates, this additional funding is needed now more than ever to preserve trees, woodlands, and other natural habitats. If the REPLANT Act passes, the U.S. Forest Service would have the funding they need to ensure all forests are consistently covered in trees.

A healthy ecosystem is crucial not just to our forests, but to the health and welfare of the entire planet. Thanks to the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act, conservationists are hopeful that this new REPLANT Act will also become law.

More Benefits

The Great American Outdoors Act is considered one of the most monumental conservation laws to pass in recent memory. Aside from improving infrastructures for visitors to parks, this bill provides a range of other benefits for those who appreciate nature and the environment.

You can expect to see significant improvements to public lands and national parks that will make your visit better. The Land and Wildlife Conservation Fund will also receive more funding, which will enhance the protection of animals and plants that have long been at risk of the threat of extinction.

From forests and rivers to scenic byways, the GAOA will improve these areas and make them a better place for all. It's also expected to create an additional 100,000 jobs both directly and indirectly for the surrounding towns and local economies.

With decades-old maintenance issues plaguing our park system, this monumental law is essential to improving recreation for everyone. Whether it's more revenue for local towns or wider, safer trails, it's easy to see why the Great American Outdoors Act is so important. 

Enjoy the Great Outdoors

Thanks to the Great American Outdoors Act, American citizens and visitors from around the world will enjoy an enhanced outdoor experience. Whether it's opening new trails or improving existing ones, this law ensures a better parks system for future generations to come.

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