WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed into law legislation that will devote nearly $3 billion annually to conservation projects, outdoor recreation and maintenance of national parks and other public lands. The measure was overwhelmingly approved by Congress.
“There hasn’t been anything like this since Teddy Roosevelt, I suspect,” Trump said about the 26th president, who created many national parks, forests and monuments to preserve the nation’s natural resources.
Supporters say the Great American Outdoors Act is the most significant conservation legislation enacted in nearly half a century will create at least 100,000 jobs, while restoring national parks and repairing trails and forest systems.
The law requires full, mandatory funding of the popular Land and Water Conservation Fund and addresses the maintenance backlog facing America’s national parks and public lands. The law would spend about $900 million a year — double current spending — on the conservation fund and another $1.9 billion per year on improvements at national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and range lands.
The House and the Senate cleared both bills by overwhelming bipartisan margins this summer.
Among the bills’ congressional champions are Republican Sens. Cory Gardner of Colorado and Steve Daines of Montana. Both are among the Senate’s most vulnerable incumbents, and each represents a state where the outdoor economy and tourism at sites such as the Rocky Mountain and Yellowstone national parks play an outsize role.
Daines and Gardner persuaded Trump to support the legislation at a White House meeting this year.
Ivanka Trump, the Republican president’s daughter and adviser, also supported the legislation. She traveled to Colorado with Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and Sen. Cory Gardner, to celebrate the bill’s passage in Congress.
“We want every American child to have access to pristine outdoor spaces, where young Americans experience the breathtaking beauty of the Grand Canyon, when their eyes widen in amazement as Old Faithful burst into the sky, when they gaze upon Yosemite’s towering sequoias, their love of country grows stronger and they know that every American has truly a duty to preserve this wondrous inheritance,” Trump said.
“At a time when our country needs to create jobs and rebuild local economies while also protecting nature and places where everyone can recreate outdoors, the Great American Outdoors Act answers the call on all fronts,” said Jennifer Morris, CEO of The Nature Conservancy, an advocacy group.
“There couldn’t be a more important time than now to improve parks, protect birds and wildlife, and create jobs in every state across the country,” added Sarah Greenberger, senior vice president for conservation policy of the National Audubon Society.
“North Carolina is home to some of the most beautiful national parks including the Great Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge Parkway,” said Sen. Thom Tillis, who co-sponsored the bill. “I am proud to have co-sponsored this bipartisan legislation and get it signed into law so we can preserve our parks and allow our kids and grandkids to enjoy them in their best form.”