After playing a major role in helping the legislation pass the Senate, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced the Great American Outdoors Act has been signed into law, after it passed both chambers of Congress and was approved by President Trump, fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) at $900 million a year, an over $404 million increase from last year’s funding amount, and establishing 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 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 create and support over 300,000 jobs. This monumental legislation will ensure that generations to come can continue to enjoy the natural beauty and history of New York.”

“The Great American Outdoors Act will establish 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’m proud to have worked with Senator Schumer and our colleagues across the aisle to turn this bill into law.”

Schumer and Gillibrand explained their strong support of the Great Americans Outdoors Act in the Senate, and said the legislation provides critical funding for states like New York that have 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 creates and supports 313,000 jobs.

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 signing of the Great American Outdoors Act was met with applause from many of New York’s conservation sites.

 “This is a great day for conservation,” says Land Trust Executive Director Andrew Zepp. “This legislation will provide much needed funds to support land and water conservation efforts throughout the country.  Here in the Finger Lakes Region, we will be able to enhance the state’s only National Forest, as well as Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge and Women’s Rights National Historical Park.  We are grateful to Senator Schumer and every member of Congress that supported this important commitment to our public lands.”

“Decades in the making, we celebrate the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act in the U.S. House in a 310-107 bipartisan vote”, said Nancy Smith, Executive Director of the Western New York Land Conservancy.  “This vote follows a 73-25 bipartisan vote from the Senate last month. In the world of land conservation, the transformative value of time spent in nature has never been more clear. This overwhelming bipartisan support for the Land and Water Conservation Fund offers a resounding call for the imperative of giving every member of our community access to the health and quality of life benefits from time spent in our national parks.”

Kate Bennett, Board President, National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, NY said, “As partners in the work of preserving the land and structures related to the important history of this area, we are delighted with the passage of this legislation – and extend our congratulations to all of the recipients of this funding.   A huge thank you to Senators Schumer and Gillibrand for their efforts to make this happen.”

“Hyde Park is the home of Eleanor Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Sites, which comprises over 1,000 acres of historic land that has accumulated over $30.4 million of deferred maintenance over the years. The upkeep of our national parks is critical to tourism that drives our economy as we look to reopen the economy here in the Hudson Valley,” said Aileen Rohr, Supervisor of Hyde Park. “We thank Senator Schumer for prioritizing federal investment into the deferred maintenance at these parks that has been delayed for years.”

A 2018 chart detailing the total deferred maintenance costs of various National Park Service locations and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Wildlife Refuges 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
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service NYS National Wildlife Refuges Statewide $5,488,840
Total: $876,818,413
Lockwood Law

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