Great American Outdoors Act Signed Into Law

It was long overdue. After billions worth of undone maintenance across the national park system and federally managed public lands, on August 4, 2020, President Trump signed the Great American Outdoors Act into law. The legislation is the culmination of a decades-long push from conservationists.

The Trump Administration worked with Congress to secure the passage of this landmark conservation legislation, which will use revenues from energy development to provide up to $1.9 billion a year for five years to provide needed maintenance for critical facilities and infrastructure in our national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, recreation areas, and American Indian schools. It will also use royalties from offshore oil and natural gas to permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund to the tune of $900 million a year to invest in conservation and recreation opportunities across the country.

In celebration of this historic achievement, U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt announced that entrance fees paid by visitors coming to lands managed by the Department will be waived on August 5, 2020. Secretary Bernhardt also announced that August 4th will be designated “Great American Outdoors Day,” a fee-free day each year moving forward to commemorate the signing of the Act.

“President Trump has just enacted the most consequential dedicated funding for national parks, wildlife refuges, public recreation facilities and American Indian school infrastructure in U.S. history,” said Secretary Bernhardt. “I’ve designated August 4th as Great American Outdoors Day and waived entrance fees to celebrate the passage of this historic conservation law.”

Entrance fees will be waived at all fee collecting public lands at the National Park Service (NPS), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). The Department holds fee-free days throughout the year to encourage visitation and appreciation for America’s public lands. On fee-free days, site-specific standard amenity and day-use fees at recreation sites and areas will be waived for the specified dates. Other fees, such as overnight camping, cabin rentals, group day use, and use of special areas, will remain in effect.

The remaining fee-free days in 2020 are:

NPS:

  • August 5: Great American Outdoors Act Commemoration
  • August 25: National Park Service Birthday
  • September 26: National Public Lands Day
  • November 11: Veterans Day

BLM:

  • August 5: Great American Outdoors Act Commemoration
  • September 26: National Public Lands Day
  • November 11: Veterans Day

FWS:

  • August 5: Great American Outdoors Act Commemoration
  • September 26: National Public Lands Day
  • October 11: First Sunday of National Wildlife Refuge Week
  • November 11: Veterans Day

Approximately 67 million visitors annually come to BLM-managed lands, supporting approximately 48,000 jobs nationwide and contributing almost $7 billion to the U.S. economy. BLM-managed public lands offer a wide array of recreational opportunities, including hiking, hunting, fishing, camping, mountain biking, horseback riding, boating, rafting, off-highway vehicle driving, rock climbing and more.

The FWS welcomes approximately 54 million people to refuges each year. Their spending generates $3.2 billion in sales to local economies, employing more than 41,000 people and providing $1.1 billion in employment income.

Last year, the NPS welcomed 327 million visitors who generated an economic impact of more than $41 billion and supported more than 340,000 jobs. Increasing popularity of our public lands has resulted in our national parks needing upgrades and improvements for more than 5,500 miles of paved roads, 17,000 miles of trails and 24,000 buildings. This legislation finally provides a long-term solution to this significant issue for the benefit of the American people and the betterment of our public lands.

Secretary Bernhardt will have 90 days to report to Congress on what projects take priority, with a congressional mandate to use most of the money beyond transportation.

The Department continues to urge visitors to do their part when visiting their public lands and follow guidance provided by the CDC, state and local public health officials to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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About Mello Mike 512 Articles
Mello Mike is an Arizona native, author, and the founder of Truck Camper Adventure. He's been RV'ing since 2002, is a certified RVIA Level 1 RV Technician, and has restored several Airstream travel trailers. He currently rolls in a 2013 Ram 3500 and a 2021 solar powered Bundutec Roadrunner truck camper. He retired from the U.S. Navy in 2004 as a CWO3 after 24 years, worked in project management, and now runs Truck Camper Adventure full-time. He also does some RV consulting, repairs, and inspections on the side.

3 Comments

    • Thanks, Bill, but we don’t get involved with politics on this website. We only report the facts when it comes to public lands and our national parks. The fact is the bill got significant support by both sides of the isle and provides a welcome infusion of cash to our public lands and national parks. We should all be happy that the Great American Outdoors Act is now law, regardless who signed it.

    • Great article Mike. Not sure why Bill would want to bring politics into it, though. Bear Ears didn’t exist until a former president reallocated land from the State of Utah, and other Federal land managers. In reading about Bear Ears and the reverence shown to the area by Native tribes, it might have been better to make the area part of Indian lands. Reduced by 85%? That’s just giving back to the State and other entities what was taken from them. Same with Grand Staircase.

      As for ANWR, go ask the Native people of the area why they weren’t allowed to participate in the wealth and advantages enjoyed by other tribes with development of energy exploration in their respective areas.

      Just sayin’, always 3 sides to every story – yours, mine and those effected.

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