Date: Friday, July 30, 2021
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WASHINGTON — On Wednesday, designated as “Great American Outdoors Day,” the Department of the Interior will celebrate the one-year anniversary of the signing of the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA). The law, which passed with strong bipartisan support, makes unprecedented investments in national parks, public lands and American Indian schools.
To support the Department’s commitment to ensuring equitable access to public lands, entrance fees will be waived on Aug. 4 at all fee-collecting public lands managed by the Department. Other fees, such as overnight camping, cabin rentals, group day use and use of special areas, remain in effect.
“Creating new jobs and stimulating our economy is a top priority of 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,” said Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland. “I invite all Americans to experience the beauty and bounty of our nation’s public lands – not just on August 4 but every day of the year.”
GAOA helps support the goals of President Biden’s America the Beautiful initiative to back locally led efforts to conserve, restore and protect lands and waters across the nation to help address the climate and biodiversity crises, increase equitable access to the great outdoors and strengthen the economy.
This summer is especially busy on many public lands. While most of the 423 national parks are open, visitors may find limited services in and around national parks. Check individual park websites or download the NPS App for specific details about their operations. Learn more about alternatives to popular parks on Interior’s blog. Public lands enthusiasts are encouraged to similarly plan their visits with the Bureau of Land Management and the Fish and Wildlife Service.
GAOA provides full and permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund at $900 million per year. The Land and Water Conservation Fund was established by Congress in 1964 to fulfill a bipartisan commitment to safeguard the nation’s natural areas, water resources and cultural heritage, and to provide recreation opportunities to all Americans.
GAOA also established the National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund (LRF) to provide needed maintenance at critical facilities on public lands and Indian schools. LRF-funded projects will help reduce Interior’s deferred maintenance backlog of over $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.
For Fiscal Year 2022, GAOA-funded projects for Interior are expected to support more than 17,000 jobs and generate $1.8 billion in local communities. Between planned Fiscal Year 2021 and proposed Fiscal Year 2022 funding, Interior has LRF deferred maintenance projects in all 50 states and multiple U.S. territories.