After the passing the bill, which finally provides full dedicated funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and addresses the $12 billion maintenance backlog facing our national parks, Hispanic Access Foundation’s President and CEO Maite Arce released the following statement:
“From the smallest to the largest of Latino communities, LWCF has been critical in providing all our nation’s diverse communities with what is often their main or only means to experience the outdoors. Whether it’s a local sports field, a community swimming pool or providing new trails, LWCF’s reach into our cities and towns is vital to the health and well-being of millions of Americans nationwide.
“While not costing taxpayers a penny as the funding comes from royalties collected through offshore oil and gas drilling, LWCF has supported over 42,000 parks and recreation projects across the country, secured more than 100 national battlefields and protected more than 2.2 million acres of national parks. In fact the majority of Americans live only minutes from an LWCF site. Americans of all stripes reap the benefits of these protected places, which help support local businesses and provide outdoor access and opportunities for hunters, fishermen, climbers, hikers, bikers, and campers across America.
“We appreciate the bipartisan support LWCF has received from many members of the House and Senate. This support reflects how important this program is to local communities and now we’ll start funding it that way. The Great American Outdoors Act ensures that LWCF dollars benefit communities and future generations all across America to its highest potential.
“The full, widespread impact LWCF has made on our communities all across this nation could never truly be measured or put into words and the importance of LWCF cannot be overstated. It’s a critical tool that provides Latinos and underserved communities with access to the outdoors, it supports both outdoor recreation and tourism economies and helps protect cultural heritage and historically significant places critical to our nation’s diverse and shared history.
The Great American Outdoors Act combines two bills – the LWCF Permanent Funding Act (S. 1081) and Restore America’s Parks Act ROPA (S.500). Our national parks are facing a $12 billion maintenance backlog and this bill would help improve key facilities like trails, campgrounds, restrooms, roads, docks and more. Hispanic Access Foundation has focused on the reauthorization and funding of LWCF for more than five years.
In 2018, HAF released the short film “Land, Water y Comunidad,” which explores the relationship Latinos across the nation have with Land and Water Conservation Fund sites – what it means to them, how they enjoy them and the impact it would have if these lands weren’t available. Additionally, HAF has helped provide hundreds of Latino community leaders with access to their elected officials both in Washington and in their home state.