In a great showing of bipartisanship for the sake of our national parks, equal outdoor access, and preserving the wild places that we hold dear, the Great American Outdoors Act cleared its final hurdle. Let’s all raise a glass and celebrate this monumental win for conservation.
A signature from the president putting the Great American Outdoors Act into legislation — for all outdoor enthusiasts, is a big deal. In fact, some are calling it the biggest win in conservation since the days of Theodore Roosevelt.
After passing through the Senate in mid-June and through the House of Representatives at the end of July, POTUS made the legislation official today by signing the historic bill into law. The bill, which has been in contention for years, can be thought of in two major parts. On one side, the bill will provide permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), and at the same time, the bill will also create a separate fund to improve a drastically underfunded national parks system.
The goal for the national park fund is to make sure that parks have adequate support, ranging from fixing access roads to maintaining trails, all the way to bathroom access. With the LWCF, this will be the second time since its inception in 1965 that it is fully funded. It will help ensure access to public lands for recreation- including fishing, while protecting and expanding the public playground from the most remote wilderness areas to local municipal parks. This is helping access and usage for all, no matter where you live, using zero taxpayer dollars.
The LWCF has been a highly contested fund for years, and Simms has been on the front lines in support of full and permanent funding of LWCF for decades. Since his earliest days at Simms, K.C Walsh, Simms’ Principal Owner and Executive Chairman, recognized the significance of conservationism and the importance of working towards maintaining clean air, clean water, and protecting wildlife habitat for all to enjoy. During his tenure as Board Chair for the American Fly Fishing Trade Association, Walsh became intimately familiar with LWCF and its significance to the fishing industry from longtime conservation lobbyist and founder of Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP), Jim Range. From that point forward, Walsh and other leaders of the Simms team have leaned into the conversation wherever and whenever possible.
This is a step in the right direction. The world is a crazy place these days, and nothing is going to get fixed overnight. This, however, is a huge win that warrants celebration. It’s a win for public land access, a win for bipartisanship, and most importantly, its a win for natural resources.
The administration feels it is such significant news that from here on out, August 4th will be known as the “Great American Outdoors Day.” That means that entrance fees will be waived on public lands managed by the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. As a special bonus, Wednesday, August 5th will also be a fee-free day on all the aforementioned public lands.
So remember- the next time you’re on the water or recreating on public land, give toast to the Great American Outdoor Act and be grateful it passed.
For information on this historic milestone for the outdoors, click here.