Habitat & Conservation  |  07/23/2020

Celebrating the Historic Passing of the Great American Outdoors Act

Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever is celebrating today’s passage of the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA), a historic conservation bill passed in the House of Representatives by a landslide vote of 310 – 107. The GAOA will permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and allocate billions of dollars to the National Park Service and other land management agencies.

The bill – which will invest in restoring national parks, conserving land, creating hunter opportunities, and putting parks and playgrounds in urban areas – is considered one of the most important environmental proposals of our time. GAOA will help ease a $12 billion maintenance backlog for national parks and other public lands. Additionally, the landmark legislation provides $900 million per year in funding for LWCF to create positive conservation and recreation impacts throughout America.

“This is an absolute giant of a moment for hunters, anglers and conservation as a whole. Dedicating resources to the Land and Water Conservation Fund – in addition to addressing maintenance backlogs on public lands – is a win of a lifetime, and we owe a huge thanks to the American people who spoke up so loudly. We offer mountains of praise for all the members of Congress who listened to the people and worked across the aisle to get the Great American Outdoors Act to the president’s desk.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers President & CEO Land Tawney said. “This bipartisan and bicameral bill sets the stage for enhanced hunting and fishing opportunities on our public lands and waters where all Americans will have the opportunity to experience the great outdoors.”

“This remarkable conservation victory is one history won’t forget,” remarked Howard Vincent, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever President & CEO. “It was accomplished because our community stuck together and rallied our members around this effort to keep the pressure on Congress. It’s a difficult time in America, but we have so much to be proud of today because we all took a step toward something great in protecting this country’s natural resources and outdoor heritage.”
In June, the Senate passed the Great American Outdoors Act with a soaring 73-25 vote. Now approved by legislators in the House, the bill awaits the President’s signature which he has previously indicated that he will sign into law.
“The Great American Outdoors Act is the single greatest piece of legislation to enhance conservation and increase access for sportsmen and women not only in this lifetime, but for the generations of sportsmen and women to come,” Congressional Sportsmen Foundation President, Jeff Crane, said. “Working alongside partners like Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever has been instrumental in driving this victory, and we commend our leaders in Congress for standing up for our nation’s sportsmen and women.”
Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever have been working on this legislation for years, ushering chapter volunteers and members of the National Youth Leadership Council to Washington D.C. for constituents to meet with Congressional leaders. PF & QF have also issued numerous Action Alerts to our members and followers, in addition to staff members focused heavily in D.C. on this significant environmental issue.
“Sportsmen and women who have spoken out for years in support of the LWCF and against the chronic underfunding of our public lands agencies should be very proud to be a part of this historic win for public lands, fish and wildlife habitat, and our hunting and fishing access,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “These issues don’t make the front page every day, which is all the more reason to celebrate the willingness of our lawmakers to prioritize the Great American Outdoors Act with a spirit of urgency and bipartisanship. For Americans who are increasingly turning to the outdoors for solace and enjoyment during this pandemic, this vote confirms that our natural resources are worthy of robust investment, especially at a time when conservation and access improvement projects can create much-needed jobs.” 
The passing of GAOA and the impacts it will have on LWCF hits close to home for the nation’s leading upland habitat conservation group. Minnesota, where Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever is headquartered, received more than $266 million in LWCF funding in the past five decades, protecting various parks, forests, rivers, and wildlife refuges. The bill will ensure the continuation of critical conservation efforts in Minnesota, as well as throughout America.