06.18.20

SCHUMER, GILLIBRAND ANNOUNCE SENATE PASSAGE OF GREAT AMERICAN OUTDOORS ACT, GIVING OVER $17 BILLION TO PRESERVING & PROTECTING PUBLIC LANDS, WATER RESOURCES & HISTORIC SITES

Great American Outdoors Act Will Invest Over $17B Into Our Public Lands and National Parks Across the U.S. and NY by fully funding LWCF & Establishing “National Park And Public Lands Legacy Restoration Fund”

Senators Pushed To Ensure Robust Funding For New York’s Outdoor Recreation Economy, Which Generates $41.8 Billion Annually And Provides 313K Jobs Across NY 

Reps: Great American Outdoors Act Hikes Up NY’s Land And Water Conservation & Sorely Needed Maintenance Funding

After their successful push last year to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), U.S Senator Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced the Senate passage of the Great American Outdoors Act, which will fully fund LWCF at $900 million a year, an over $404 million increase from last year’s funding amount, and establish a National Park and Public Lands Legacy Restoration Fund to address the deferred maintenance backlog on our nation’s public lands and provide up to $1.9 billion annually or $9.5 billion in total.

“The Great American Outdoors Act will help to preserve and protect New York’s natural wonders and maintain its history,” said Senator Schumer. “New York is home to many of the nation’s breathtaking natural treasures and historical landmarks which house hundreds of acres of parks, generate billions in economic activity, and have created and support over 300,000 jobs in the outdoor recreation industry. Passage of this critical legislation will help ensure that generations to come can continue to enjoy the natural beauty and history of New York.”

“The Great American Outdoors Act brings us one step closer to establishing a vital funding stream for our shared lands and waters,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund and programs to preserve our national parks have been critical to protecting New York’s natural treasures and landmarks, generating economic activity and creating thousands of jobs across the state. I’m proud to have been an original cosponsor of this legislation and to have continuously pushed to permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund, one of the most important programs we have to protect our nation’s natural and historic treasures. I will continue working across the aisle to ensure this bill becomes law.” 

Schumer and Gillibrand explained that the Great American Outdoors Act is critical for states like New York that have a robust outdoor recreation industries, like fishing, boating, swimming, hiking, and more. The Senators revealed that New York State’s outdoor recreation economy generates $41.8 billion in consumer spending, $14.0 billion in wages and salaries. $3.6 billion in State and Local Tax Revenue, and created and supports 313,000 jobs across the state.

Schumer and Gillibrand specified that the National Park and Public Lands Legacy Restoration Fund would be divided amongst the National Parks Service (70%), U.S. Forest Service (15%), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (5%), Bureau of Land Management (5%), and Bureau of Indian Education schools (5%). Along with the 35 parks managed by the National Parks Service, New York State has 10 wildlife refuges managed by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (Amagansett National Wildlife Refuge, Conscience Point National Wildlife Refuge, Elizabeth A. Morton National Wildlife Refuge, Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge, Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, Oyster Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Seatuck National Wildlife Refuge, Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge, Target Rock National Wildlife Refuge, and Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge) and the Finger Lakes National Forest managed by the U.S. Forest Service.

The Senators stressed the importance of the Great American Outdoors Act, citing the maintenance needs of several NPS projects. Deferred maintenance refers to the repairs or maintenance on roads, buildings and other facilities and structures that have been postponed due to budget constraints.

Schumer and Gillibrand referred to several projects across New York that are currently on hold due to a lack of federal funding. For example, the Gateway National Recreation Area needs $651,078,965 in maintenance funding. Additionally, the Senators said that the properties associated with the Harriet Tubman National Historic Park in Auburn, New York – the Thompson A.M.E Zion Church, Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged and the Harriet Tubman Residence – require millions of dollars in funding to become fully operational and open to visitors. In addition, other sites like the Stonewall National Monument and African Burial Ground National Monument in New York, New York will be eligible for funding.

Schumer and Gillibrand said that the LWCF has provided New York State with $355.9 million in total so far since its inception over 50 years ago. Specifically, the state has received $74.8 million from federal programs, $19.4 million from the forest legacy program, $1 million from the American Battlefield Protection Program, $14.5 million from the Highlands Conservation Act, and $246.5 million from state and local programs. The LWCF does not rely on taxpayer funds and instead uses revenue collected from offshore oil and gas development to purchase lands from willing sellers for the purposes of conservation. The goal of the program is to help preserve national parks and wilderness areas across the country.

Schumer has long advocated for robust LWCF funding and has advocated for reauthorization and additional funding since 2015 while visiting Peacock Park in Lake Placid and again in 2018 while visiting Catskill waterfront.

A 2018 chart detailing the total deferred maintenance costs of various National Park Service locations across New York State for natural and historical sites appears below:

NYS Deferred Maintenance

Site

Location

Amount

Castle Clinton National Monument

New York, NY

$4,661,829

Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site

Hyde Park, NY

$6,179,478

Federal Hall National Memorial

New York, NY

$2,938,810

Fire Island National Seashore

Patchogue, NY

$12,391,692

Fort Stanwix National Monument

Rome, NY

$1,087,120

Gateway National Recreation Area

Staten Island, NY

$651,078,965

General Grant National Memorial

New York, NY

$5,403,429

Governors Island National Monument

New York, NY

$30,537,339

Hamilton Grange National Memorial

New York, NY

$370,295

Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site

Hyde Park, NY

$9,424,818

Lower East Side Tenement Museum National Historic Site

New York, NY

$2,255,657

Martin Van Buren National Historic Site

Kinderhook, NY

$2,810,296

Sagamore Hill National Historical Site

Oyster Bay, NY

$5,606,851

Saint Paul's Church National Historic Site

Mount Vernon, NY

$146,000

Saratoga National Historical Park

Stillwater, NY

$19,092,115

Statue Of Liberty National Monument

Ellis Island, NY

$90,151,698

Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site

New York, NY

$4,011,067

Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site

Buffalo, NY

$1,835,180

Thomas Cole National Historic Site

Catskill, NY

$444,205

Upper Delaware Scenic & Recreational River

Delaware, Orange, Sullivan Counties, NY

$828,906

Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site

Hyde Park, NY

$14,746,299

Women's Rights National Historic Park

Seneca Falls, NY

$5,327,524

Total:

$871,329,573

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