President Donald Trump signed the Great American Outdoors Act this morning, and the Land & Water Conservation Fund Coalition declared the signing “a resounding victory for public lands.”
“Today marks a new era for conservation that will benefit every single American,” LWCF Coalition co-chair Lesley Kane wrote in a statement. “The extraordinary impact of this program is felt all across the country, from the multi-billion-dollar outdoor recreation economy and the millions of jobs it supports to the trails, rivers, and public land access it provides for sportsmen and women and outdoor enthusiasts, and from urban parks to our majestic national parks and forests.”
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Trump signed the Great American Outdoors Act at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, which will allow spending of $900 million a year on the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Also, it will allow for the spending of $1.9 billion annually on maintenance projects administered by the National Park Service, the Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Bureau of Indian Education.
“With President Trump’s signature, the original vision of LWCF will at last be realized, and countless missing puzzle pieces within our national parks, forests and wildlife refuges will be secured and not lost through private sale,” Kane said in a statement. “Local communities will now have more resources to meet their recreation needs and the confidence to make long-term investments to protect their water supplies, adapt to a changing climate, and strike a needed balance between development and protection. Historical sites will be preserved to educate future generations. And sportsmen and women will no longer be frustrated by obstacles to public hunting and fishing access.”
Kane continued, “Despite uneven funding, LWCF has conserved iconic landscapes in every state; protected our national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, wilderness, monuments and battlefields; and supported community investments in parks and outdoor recreation opportunities. Now, LWCF will be a promise fully kept, as a permanent commitment to conservation, recreation and community needs that for too long have fallen through the cracks. And, it will do all this while driving job creation and economic recovery efforts our country needs right now. The LWCF Coalition celebrates this major conservation achievement and thanks the many LWCF heroes who secured this huge win for all Americans.”
Although the signing of the Great American Outdoors Act is being applauded, the outdoor footwear industry has long had a contentious relationship with Trump.
In April 2017, for example, the president signed an executive order to review all national monuments created since 1996, which had then Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke looking into national monuments spanning at least 100,000 acres. (Zinke announced his resignation in December 2018.)
Outdoor market standouts, including The North Face, lambasted the decision via social media.
“We fundamentally believe our national monuments, parks and public lands are vital shared spaces and any attempt to change them threatens our heritage, destroying part of the very core of who we have become as a nation. It also erodes the livelihood of 7.6 million people who are employed in outdoor recreation,” the brand wrote in an Instagram post at the time. “We stand with the outdoor industry, our customers and the overwhelming majority of Americans who oppose any legislation that would reduce or devalue our national monuments, parks and public lands. Protecting and preserving access to these places is core to our mission to enable all people to explore outdoors. #MonumentsforAll.”
Months later, Trump reduced the size of Bears Ears National Monument by 85 percent and Grand Staircase-Escalante — both located in Utah — by nearly half in December. Multiple reports at the time stated Trump’s action was the largest reduction of federal land protection in U.S. history.
Patagonia would respond with a bold message on its website, stating: “The President Stole Your Land.” The outdoor apparel standout said, “In an illegal move, the president just reduced the size of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. This is the largest elimination of protected land in American history.”