Undated 2017 file photo shows hiker descending Angels Landing Road with nearly 1,000-foot falls on both sides, Zion National Park, Utah | Photo by Caitlin This / Zion National Park, St. George News
ST. GEORGE – On Wednesday, designated as “Great American Outdoors Day”, the Home Office will celebrate the first anniversary of the signing of the Great American Outdoors Act. The law, which was passed with strong bipartisan support, makes unprecedented investments in national parks, public lands and Native American schools.
To support the department’s commitment to ensure equitable access to public lands, entrance fees will be removed on Wednesday on all fee-paying public lands managed by the department, according to a press release issued by the department. Other charges, such as overnight camping, cabin rentals, group daytime use, and use of special areas, remain in effect.
“Creating new jobs and growing our economy is a top priority for the Biden-Harris administration. Through the Great American Outdoors Act, we are investing in the American people and in the future of our public lands and sacred spaces, ”Home Secretary Deb Haaland said in the press release. “I invite all Americans to experience the beauty and bounty of our nation’s public lands – not just August 4, but every day of the year.”
The Great American Outdoors Act helps support the goals of President Joe Biden’s America the Beautiful initiative to support locally-led efforts to conserve, restore and protect lands and waters across the country to help cope with crises in the climate and biodiversity, increase equitable access to wide open spaces and strengthen the economy, the statement said.
This summer is particularly busy on many public lands. While most of the 423 national parks are open, visitors may find limited services in and around the national parks. Check each park’s websites or download the NPS app for specific details on their operations. Learn more about alternatives to popular parks on the Interior blog. Public land enthusiasts are encouraged to similarly plan their visits with the Bureau of Land Management and the Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Act provides for full and permanent funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund to the tune of $ 900 million per year. The Land and Water Conservation Fund was established by Congress in 1964 to fulfill a bipartisan commitment to protect the nation’s natural areas, water resources, and cultural heritage, and to provide recreational opportunities for all Americans.
The Act also established the National Parks and Public Lands Heritage Restoration Fund to provide the necessary maintenance of essential facilities on public lands and Indian schools. The projects funded by the restoration will help reduce Interior’s deferred maintenance backlog by more than $ 22 billion 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.
By FY2022, Great American Outdoors Act-funded indoor projects are expected to support more than 17,000 jobs and generate $ 1.8 billion in local communities. Between the funding planned for FY2021 and the funding proposed for FY2022, Interior has deferred maintenance plans for the Legacy Restoration Fund in all 50 states and several U.S. territories.
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