This landmark conservation bill ensures the Land and Water Conservation Fund will be fully and permanently funded. Public opinion research shows an overwhelming majority of voters support ambitious efforts to protect America’s land, water, and wildlife, and with this vote our elected leaders have shown they are listening. This bill not only addresses the protection of US natural spaces; it helps expand access to parklands so that all communities have equitable access to outdoor recreation.
Creation Justice Ministries Executive Director Shantha Ready Alonso said of the bill's passage, "Land and water conservation are powerful tools to tackle the climate crisis, and this bill is an important step towards an inclusive plan with natural solutions that benefit all. We are especially grateful to our elected officials on both sides of the aisle who have had a long and steady track record of championing our public lands by investing in the Land and Water Conservation Fund as well as our national parks."
Many of Creation Justice Ministries' partners have worked hard toward this day. Arizona Faith Network, for example, educated faith communities on the importance of the Land and Water Conservation Fund for years, and most recently organized June 2020 and March 2020 letters to their US Senators urging them to pass this legislation. Arizona Faith Network Executive Director Rev. Katie Sexton said of the legislation's passage: “Arizona is home to some of the most beautiful public parks and greenspaces, and we are so proud of the successful, bipartisan effort to pass this bill that will enable us to protect these treasures for future generations. As people of faith we know that these places are essential to both the physical and spiritual health of our communities.”
Rev. Clifford Bahlinger, a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, a former Park Ranger with the National Park Service and an advocate for Creation Justice expressed his thanks, "The Great American Outdoors Act" is a major victory for our parks. Fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund creates a fixed funding source as we go forward. It is a breath of fresh air to see leaders from both political parties supporting this legislation. As a former National Park Service Ranger, I am thrilled to know that the Great American Outdoors Act will cut in half the $12 billion maintenance backlog in our national parks. This funding in our parks will create jobs, and help to preserve our national parks and monuments. Creation Justice has been a vocal advocate for this important legislation. We give thanks for the many partners who supported this legislation through the years."
The Great American Outdoors Act will also help in America’s economic recovery. The Act will provide massive economic benefits in the short and long term as it will put tens of thousands of people back to work while boosting outdoor recreation and tourism, strengthening our local economies when they need it most.