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Wyden, Merkley hail Senate passage of ‘Great American Outdoors Act’

Crater Lake National Park National Park Service
National Park Service (file)
Crater Lake National Park

Measure for land, water conservation, natl. parks maintenance goes to House

WASHINGTON (KTVZ) -- Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., welcomed Senate passage Wednesday of the Great American Outdoors Act to provide mandatory permanent and full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The legislation also addresses the significant maintenance backlog in national parks and on federal lands.

The legislation now advances to the U.S. House of Representatives for consideration.

"This watershed conservation legislation will protect Oregon's treasured places for generations to come. And it couldn't come at a better time with the economic impact of the COVID-19 emergency hitting our rural communities like a wrecking ball," Wyden said.

"The LWCF not only helps to get people outdoors and expand access to public lands, it has a proven track record of boosting the economies of the communities near those lands. It’s the ultimate game plan for economic success in rural Oregon when you’re talking about jobs and recreation around our natural wonders."

“Just as Oregon’s shores, forests and deserts have long been woven into the spirit of our state and the vitality of our economy, America’s incredible public lands have made invaluable contributions to every region of our country,” said Merkley. 

“It’s our responsibility to be good stewards of those treasures, so that they can be enjoyed by future generations of hikers, hunters, fishermen, and other outdoor recreationists. I’m pleased that the Senate took an important step toward protecting Oregon’s and America’s great outdoor spaces by passing this legislation.”

The LWCF provides funding to protect some of Oregon's most cherished natural wonders, including the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Upper and Lower Table Rocks, Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, the the Oregon National Historic Trail and more.

Other sites that receive LWCF funding include the Three Sisters Wilderness Area and the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.

By providing mandatory permanent and full funding for the LWCF, the Great American Outdoors Act will help protect these special places for generations to come. The legislation will also help tackle the $127.2 million national park maintenance backlog in the state -- including $100 million at Crater Lake National Park -- and taken together add up to support for Oregon's recreation economy.

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Barney Lerten

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