President Trump signed a landmark bill into law Tuesday that permanently funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund and provides billions of dollars to restore national park infrastructure.
The Great American Outdoors Act, supported by a bipartisan coalition in the House and Senate, allocates $9.5 billion over five years to restore facilities and infrastructure in national parks and public lands. It also provides $900 million a year in permanent funding to the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).
“The legislation I’m signing today builds on my administration’s unwavering commitment to conserving … the grandeur and the splendor of God’s creation,” Trump said. “This is truly God’s creation.”
It was sponsored in the House by the late Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and in the Senate by Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.).
The new law, Trump said, will create more than 100,000 additional infrastructure-related jobs.
“For more than 50 years, Congress has struggled to adequately fund land and water conservation, leading to a never-ending backlog of maintenance and other critical needs in our parks and public lands,” Trump said. “... Today, more than 5,500 miles of road, 17,000 miles of trails, and 24,000 buildings are in critical need of repair; they have been for a long time.”
Trump called it “the most significant investment in our parks since the administration of the legendary conservationist President Theodore Roosevelt.”
Theodore Roosevelt IV, the great-grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt, urged Congress in June to support the act. According to the National Parks Service, Theodore Roosevelt was a conservationist who signed legislation creating five national parks, doubling the size of the park system sites at the time.
“Passing the Great American Outdoors Act would be taking a page from President Theodore Roosevelt’s book: protecting the quintessence of who we are as Americans in the stewardship of our natural places, great and small,” Theodore Roosevelt IV wrote in a letter to House and Senate leaders. “President Roosevelt set conservation as a priority – a duty – for a great and far-sighted nation in recognition that our natural bounty is the foundation for all else. Without it, we cannot prosper.”
Photo courtesy: Jeremy Bishop/Unsplash
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.