Montana Wildlife Federation Applauds Senate Passage of Great American Outdoors Act

Legislation would protect and improve public lands access and infrastructure

For Immediate Release

June 17, 2020

Contact: Alec Underwood, Montana Wildlife Federation, alec@mtwf.org, 406-303-0494

On Wednesday, the United States Senate voted to pass S.3422, the Great American Outdoors Act. If passed through the House of Representatives and signed by the President, this bipartisan legislation would fully fund one of America’s most important conservation tools: the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). It would also address a multi-billion dollar deferred maintenance backlog within our National Parks and forests.

LWCF has directly benefitted public lands and Montana communities, securing new public access, maintaining wildlife habitat and investing in projects that are essential to the quality of life for Montanans. For hunters and anglers, the program is a valuable tool for acquiring new public lands and fishing access sites.

“A big thank you to Senator Tester and Senator Daines for getting GAOA over the Senate finish line. We are incredibly grateful for Sen. Tester’s decade-long dedication to the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and Sen. Daines’ leadership in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has been vital to the bill’s passage. We’re on the cusp of a historic, bipartisan victory for outdoor recreation in Montana that will ensure critical investment in our public lands for generations to come – during a time when we need access to our public lands and waters most,” said Alec Underwood, Federal Conservation Director for Montana Wildlife Federation. “MWF salutes the generations of Montana hunters and anglers who’ve advocated for full, permanent funding the past 60 years. Today’s Senate bipartisan vote to advance the Great American Outdoors Act gets us closer to seeing the full benefits of one of our country’s most important conservation tools.”

Outdoor recreation in Montana has emerged as one of the top economic industries in the state, supporting over 71,000 jobs and resulting in over $7 billion in consumer spending annually. This robust economic driver is directly dependent on having adequate access and high-quality recreation opportunities on public lands.

“Securing new public lands like the recent purchase of 13,000 acres in the Lower Blackfoot River corridor is a prime example of how valuable LWCF is to outdoor users,” said Adam Shaw, President of MWF affiliate, Hellgate Hunters and Anglers. “Whether it’s one of the hundreds of fishing access sites, or community parks, trails, and ballfields that have been funded by LWCF dollars, securing full and dedicated funding will solidify future investments in our public lands and give our outdoor recreation economy a needed boost.”

S.3422 would also establish the National Parks and Public Lands Legacy Fund to address the growing maintenance backlog within the National Park Service as well as on other federal lands. It would direct up to $9.5 billion to multiple federal agencies while creating needed, new jobs, and improving public lands infrastructure that is severely outdated.

The House of Representatives has introduced companion legislation, and Montana hunters and anglers hope that Representative Gianforte votes with three-quarters of Montanans who support full, dedicated funding for LWCF.