Oregon Outdoors, a coalition of leaders in the outdoor recreation industry, nonprofit recreation groups and conservation organizations that advocate for the maintenance and expansion of Oregon’s outdoor assets, applauded the enactment of the Great American Outdoors Act, which President Donald Trump signed into law on August 4, 2020. All members of Oregon’s congressional delegation voted in support of the bill.
The legislation will invest funds in priority repairs at National Park Service (NPS) sites in Oregon and across the country. In Oregon, deferred maintenance needs total nearly $174 million, with Crater Lake National Park accounting for over $142 million alone. This is just a small part of the over $13 billion backlog threatening park resources and local economies. It is estimated that if all the deferred maintenance at NPS sites in Oregon was managed, more than 1,156 jobs could be created or supported.
The bill also provides resources for maintenance and management on other public lands and permanently funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). LWCF has helped protect some of Oregon’s most special places and ensure recreational access for a wide range of activities. The fund also provides resources to urban and rural communities for recreation facilities. Over the past five decades, Oregon has received approximately $313 million in LWCF funding, protecting places such as the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Oregon Coast Wildlife Refuges, West Eugene Wetlands, Hells Canyon National Recreation Area and the Oregon National Historic Trail.
“Outdoor recreation generates $16.4 billion per year and sustains over 171,000 jobs in Oregon,” said Cailin O’Brien-Feeney, director of the Oregon Office of Outdoor Recreation. “Our public lands, parks and historic sites have been seeing increased pressure from use and limited funding for maintenance for years now. This bill will help restore the integrity of these important places so they can continue to be enjoyed now and in the future. Our entire Oregon congressional delegation deserves recognition for their leadership in supporting the Great American Outdoors Act.”
The legislation is the most significant investment in almost 65 years for national parks and public lands. Equally important, it will help local communities and businesses get back on their feet and generate new jobs. According to NPS, in 2019 alone, more than 1.2 million visitors visited national parks in Oregon. From Oregon Caves to Fort Vancouver, Oregon saw $91.7 million spent in gateway communities. That spending supported 1,315 jobs and provided a cumulative benefit of $129.6 million to the state economy — money that helps businesses, schools and families.
This legislation has supported more than 900 organizations including local towns and cities, the recreation industry, veterans groups, hotel and lodging, infrastructure associations, preservation groups, hunters and anglers, conservation organizations and local businesses.