Cunningham, Bipartisan Colleagues Introduce the Great American Outdoors Act

June 4, 2020
Press Release

Bipartisan legislation fully funds LWCF and addresses critical repairs in our national parks 

Washington, D.C. ­– Rep. Joe Cunningham (SC-01) today introduced the Great American Outdoors Act, bipartisan legislation to fully and permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and address priority repair needs in our national parks and other land management agencies. Cunningham was joined by Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ), Mike Simpson (R-ID), TJ Cox (D-CA), John Katko (R-NY), Xochitl Torres Small (D-NM), Lee Zeldin (R-NY), Kendra Horn (D-OK), Steve Stivers (R-OH), Jared Golden (D-ME), and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE).

This bill is the House companion legislation to the Great American Outdoors Act introduced in the Senate (S. 3422) by Sens. Cory Gardner (R-C0) and Joe Manchin (D-WV). In March, President Trump called on Congress to send this legislation to his desk to be signed into law. The Great American Outdoors Act has drawn the support of more than 900 organizations across the country, including local businesses, the recreation industry, veterans groups, conservation organizations, tourism and travel associations, sportsmen, and infrastructure groups. 

“Over the past five decades, LWCF has become the gold standard of conservation programs and has invested more than $303.5 million in South Carolina to protect its recreational areas and open spaces,” said Rep. Joe Cunningham. “Last year we permanently reauthorized LWCF and now the time has come to make its funding permanent. LWCF has enriched countless lives in the Lowcountry by protecting many of the places that make our community unique and irreplaceable, from the Folly Beach Boardwalk to Hunting Island State Park. I stand with our community, environmental and sportsmen groups, and business and tourism leaders to urge my colleagues to pass the Great American Outdoors Act as soon as possible, permanently fund LWCF and address the maintenance backlog across our national parks and public lands.”

“The bipartisan Great American Outdoors Act is a much-needed win for the American people.  It will create jobs in communities across America, restore aging national park and public lands infrastructure, preserve historic sites, and protect recreation access,” said Marcia Argust, project director of The Pew Charitable Trusts’ restore America’s parks campaign. “Now more than ever, people recognize the importance of getting outside. Taking care of these places and the communities and small businesses that depend on them is a smart investment,” said Marcia Argust, Project Director, The Pew Charitable Trusts. 

“The Great American Outdoors Act provides desperately needed investment to communities across the country. The Land and Water Conservation Fund preserves our natural and cultural heritage, it helps tell the stories of the diverse communities in our country, and it supports green spaces across the country—providing greater access to nature closer to home while supporting our outdoor recreation economy. That’s why it’s more important than ever to invest in our health and economic recovery by fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund and addressing the maintenance needs in our national parks and other public lands.  Congressman Cunningham is once again leading the way on commonsense conservation solutions. This bill introduction accelerates the momentum across both chambers of Congress for the Great American Outdoors Act. Let’s get it done,” said Gene Karpinski, President of the League of Conservation Voters.

“Congressman Joe Cunningham knows that a healthy environment and vibrant economy go hand in hand. That’s why his support for investing in our parks, trails, and outdoor spaces is a key part of our state’s and nation’s recovery. Parks and outdoor spaces support local tourism and outdoor recreation businesses while also helping to improve our mental and physical health - lowering stress and keeping us physically active.  Supporting this type of win-win investment for the Lowcountry economy and environment is what we’ve come to expect from a Lowcountry environmental champion like Congressman Cunningham,” said John Tynan, Executive Director of Conservation Voters of South Carolina.

“South Carolinians of all ages have long looked to the outdoors to help provide a sense of health and well-being, and I’ve long said, ‘conservation is a team sport.’  I appreciate Rep. Cunningham’s efforts to spearhead this bipartisan legislation that will provide critical federal support for public outdoor recreation.  This legislation will help South Carolinians continue to live life outdoors by restoring, enhancing, and protecting public outdoor places for enjoyment by present and future generations,” said Robert H. Boyles, Director of the SC Department of Natural Resources.

“Perhaps now more than ever, Americans have a strong desire to be outdoors, which is why Ducks Unlimited joined the Responsible Recreation movement. Whether you’re an avid hunter or angler, or simply enjoy experiencing the beauty of our natural landscapes, our nation’s federal lands offer ample opportunity for everyone. The Great American Outdoors Act will increase access to the more than 600 million acres of land that belong to the American people, and we applaud Congressman Cunningham for his leadership on behalf of our nation’s shared natural resources,” said Mike McShane, former SC DNR Board Chairman and current Ducks Unlimited Board Member.