On Thursday, designated as “Great American Outdoors Day,” the Department of the Interior will celebrate the two-year anniversary of the signing of the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA). The law, which passed with strong bipartisan support, is the single largest investment in public lands in U.S. history and provides funding for much-needed maintenance of infrastructure in our national parks, public lands, and Bureau of Indian Education-funded schools.
To support the DOI’s commitment to ensuring equitable access to public lands, entrance fees will be waived on August 4 at all fee-collecting public lands managed by the department. Other fees, such as overnight camping, cabin rentals, group day use, and use of special areas, remain in effect.
“The Great American Outdoors Act is essential to conserving, restoring and protecting lands and waters across the nation to help address the climate and biodiversity crises, increase equitable access to the great outdoors and strengthen the economy,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “I encourage everyone to experience the beauty and bounty of our nation’s public lands – not just on August 4 but every day of the year.”
Investments from the Great American Outdoors Act work together with funding from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Biden-Harris administration’s America the Beautiful initiative and other investments to strengthen our nation’s infrastructure and prepare it to meet future needs.
GAOA provides full and permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund at $900 million per year. The Land and Water Conservation Fund was established by Congress in 1964 to fulfill a bipartisan commitment to safeguard the nation’s natural areas, water resources, and cultural heritage, and to provide recreation opportunities to all Americans.
GAOA also established the National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund (LRF) to provide needed maintenance at critical facilities on public lands and Indian schools. LRF-funded projects will help reduce the Interior’s deferred maintenance backlog and improve recreation facilities, dams, water and utility infrastructure, schools, and other historic structures. Other projects aim to increase public access by restoring and repairing roads, trails, bridges, and parking areas.
For Fiscal Year 2023, GAOA-LRF-funded projects for the Interior are expected to support more than 15,100 jobs and generate about $1.6 billion in local communities. Between Fiscal Year 2021 and 2022 funding, the Interior has planned 222 LRF deferred maintenance projects in all 50 states and multiple U.S. territories. An additional 63 projects have been proposed for the Fiscal Year 2023 funding.
Visitors can locate national parks, Bureau of Land Management sites, and national wildlife refuges through each bureau’s respective website. Be sure to check individual site websites and social media accounts for details about local conditions and closures.
Visit the Department’s new Great American Outdoors Act website to learn more about our work on this historic legislation.