Senate passes major public lands bill

The Great American Outdoors Act will fix crumbling national park infrastructure and permanently support the popular Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Visitors Thursday at Yosemite National Park in California./Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

By Chris D’Angelo | Huffpost

In a rare display of bipartisanship, the U.S. Senate has passed a sweeping public lands package that both addresses the ballooning maintenance backlog at national parks and provides full, permanent funding for the popular Land and Water Conservation Fund, a program established in 1964 to protect natural areas and water resources. 

Co-sponsors of the legislation, which passed Wednesday by an overwhelming 73-25 vote, have hailed it as the most important conservation bill in a generation ― one that will preserve public lands and create thousands of jobs at a time when communities across America are reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic. It now heads to the House for consideration, and President Donald Trump has promised to sign it into law. 

In a speech on the Senate floor last week, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) called the legislation a “chance in a lifetime.” 

“By helping the land, we’re helping the communities, because it’s there for future generations,” Gardner said. “This really is an opportunity for this nation to come together at a time of great need, economically and I think spiritually, quite frankly.”

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