Norcross Applauds Passage of Great American Outdoors Act
U.S. Congressman Donald Norcross (D-NJ-01), voted to pass H.R. 1957, the Great American Outdoors Act, on Tuesday to provide permanent, full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and establish the National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund. This strong, bipartisan legislation, which passed the Senate last month, builds on the progress made by last year's John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act. The Great American Outdoors Act will now go to the President's desk for signature, ensuring critical investments in our national parks, public lands and conservation efforts today and into the future.
"For the people of South Jersey, our public lands, recreational areas and natural heritage are a vital part of the strength of our community," said Congressman Norcross. "The Great American Outdoors Act is a historic achievement that delivers the long-promised funding needed to protect our parks and ensure that all people in our community benefit from the economic, social and health benefits that conserving and building green public spaces bring to NJ families. This vital legislation will create good-paying jobs, protect our precious natural landscapes and make sure that South Jersey residents and all Americans can access to the great outdoors. Now, we must rededicate ourselves to protecting our environment and fulfilling our conservation promises for generations to come."
"We're one step away from putting a lock and key on funding that has always been intended for conservation projects -- yet consistently diverted to other purposes. The pandemic -- and its stay-at-home orders -- has reminded us how much we need to be outside, and this legislation will preserve a new generation of natural lands," said Doug O'Malley, director of Environment New Jersey. "We applaud the House's bipartisan passage of the Great American Outdoors Act, and the unanimous vote by New Jersey's Congressional delegation. We appreciate Congressman Norcross's leadership to ensure we can fund conservation measures for parks in Camden City and preserve the farmland of South Jersey. We urge the President to sign this bill into law as soon as possible."
The Great American Outdoors Act ensures that the $900 million permanently authorized by Congress last year funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund at the levels that were promised. The LWCF is America's most successful conservation program and these resources will make sure that it continues to:
Support enhanced park and recreational access for local communities throughout the country;
Addresses environmental injustice by creating green spaces near low-income communities and communities of color across the country by preserving our natural heritage in an equitable manner;
Strengthens the recreation economy, which is one of the fastest growing economic sectors and a key driver of jobs across the country; and
Implements recommendations from the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis' Solving the Climate Crisis action plan to support the goal of protecting at least 30 percent of all U.S. lands and ocean areas by 2030 while helping fragile ecosystems, wildlife populations and communities become more resilient to the impacts of the climate crisis.
And to preserve our National Parks, the Great American Outdoors Act establishes the National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund, providing federal land management agencies with critical resources to address the $22 billion deferred maintenance backlog on our public lands.
LWCF has invested more than $346 million to protect New Jersey's open spaces, historic sites, and increase recreation access. From national wildlife refuges and forests to ballfields and community parks, LWCF has protected places like the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, Morristown National Historical Park, Pinelands National Reserve, Jesse Allen Park in Newark, and Salem River Wildlife Management Area.
New Jersey's $18.9 billion outdoor recreation industry is an economic powerhouse -- supporting 143,000 jobs which generate $5.9 billion in wages and salaries and produces $1.2 billion annually in state and local tax revenue.