The Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) is making significant strides in improving campground facilities across the United States.
Enacted into law on August 4, 2020, the GAOA is providing new opportunities for the USDA Forest Service to deliver benefits to the American public through major investments in infrastructure, recreation facilities, public lands access, and land and water conservation.
The GAOA has two main components. The first is the establishment of the National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund (LRF), which is funded for five years to address the maintenance backlog for five land management agencies (USDA Forest Service, National Parks Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Indian Education) in fiscal years 2021-2025.
The second component is the permanent full funding of the Land and Water Conservation fund (LWCF), which provides for federal land acquisition and Forest Legacy grants to states under existing programs, as per the News & Insights report of the RV Industry Association (RVIA).
These investments in Forest Service infrastructure, recreation facilities, and public lands access demonstrate the agency’s commitment to caring for the land and serving people.
The Forest Service currently administers more than 372,000 miles of roads, 6,600 bridges, 163,000 miles of trails, 7,400 trail bridges, 460 dams and reservoirs, 1,100 communications sites, 30,000 recreation sites, nearly 5,000 each of drinking water and wastewater systems, and 40,000 buildings.
The LRF allows the Forest Service to address deferred maintenance on these critical facilities as well as improve critical infrastructure essential for use and enjoyment of national forests and grasslands.
The GAOA secures $900 million in permanent funding each year for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), managed by the Departments of Agriculture and the Interior. The Forest Service administers two LWCF programs – the Forest Legacy Program and the Land Acquisition program – that together conserve critical and strategic lands across the nation’s forests and grasslands.
Forest Service LWCF projects enhance recreational access to existing public lands, conserve working timberlands vital for local economies, and protect critical watersheds.
The GAOA is not only improving the infrastructure of these outdoor spaces but also contributing to local economies. The projects funded by the GAOA are creating jobs and supporting local businesses that provide services to campers and RVers. This, in turn, is boosting tourism in these areas and contributing to the overall economic health of these communities.
GAOA is playing a crucial role in enhancing the camping and outdoor recreation experience for campers and RVers.
By addressing the maintenance backlog and investing in infrastructure and recreation facilities, the GAOA is ensuring that these outdoor spaces can be enjoyed by future generations. Moreover, these investments are also supporting local economies and contributing to the economic health of communities across the country.