Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark (MA-05)and Congresswoman Lori Trahan (MA-03) visited Minute Man National Historical Park to celebrate the recent passage of the Great American Outdoors Act and participate in a discussion on the importance of national parks, public lands, and conservation with the park's leadership, the Appalachian Mountain Club, and key conservation and recreation partners.
"The Great American Outdoors Act is a long overdue investment in our children, our environment, and our future," said Assistant Speaker Clark. "This law will help preserve our public lands and national parks, restore and revitalize outdoor recreation areas across the country, and boost the economies of rural communities surrounding these great spaces. Notably, the law also fully and permanently pays for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, one of our greatest tools to confront the impacts of climate change. The COVID-19 pandemic has led so many Americans to rediscover the outdoors, and I'm so grateful that the Great American Outdoors Act will ensure that these national treasures remain available to everyone for many years to come."
"For far too long, Washington has divested from conservation efforts and neglected the need for maintenance and upgrades at national parks here in Massachusetts and across our nation. Making the Great American Outdoors Act law finally puts an end to that federal neglect," said Congresswoman Trahan. "This law ensures that national parks like Minute Man receive the amount of funding that reflects their immense value and, consequently, guarantees every American the chance to enjoy our nation's public lands for generations to come."
Taking part in today's celebration and discussion were Minute Man Superintendent BJ Dunn, Appalachian Mountain Club President and CEO John Judge, Massachusetts Land Trust Coalition Executive Director Robb Johnson, The Nature Conservancy Massachusetts Policy Manager Emily Myron, and Groundwork Lawrence Executive Director Heather McMann.
"Now, perhaps more than ever, Americans are showing how essential it is to be able to access public land and water for both physical and mental health. AMC applauds the passage Great American Outdoors Act with the steadfast support and leadership of Congresswoman Trahan and Assistant Speaker Clark to make this victory possible, permanently and fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund and addressing the backlog of maintenance on our public lands. As a leader of the national LWCF Coalition, we are grateful for this truly historic action to support our nation's vibrant recreation economy and local communities, as well as help ensure that everyone will be able to reach a park, forest, or trail near them to enjoy time in the outdoors that is truly restorative," said John Judge, President and CEO of Appalachian Mountain Club.
Minute Man National Historical Park spans 970 acres of rich historic land in and around the towns of Concord, Lexington, and Lincoln. Home to the place where the first battle of the Revolutionary War took place in 1775 and the storied Wayside property, the park has long been a hotspot for local, national, and international visitors. Between 1964 and 2019, the park has welcomed more than 51 million people to the park, and it continues to be a COVID-19 friendly recreational option for Massachusetts families. However, due to inconsistent federal support for national parks, Minute Man – like other national parks – has struggled to keep up with its maintenance requirements, causing a maintenance backlog now totaling $12.4 million.
To combat this issue, Trahan and Clark both joined with strong bipartisan majorities in both chambers to cosponsor and support the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act, landmark conservation legislation that fully funds the Land Water Conservation Fund and provides billions in funding to fix buildings, trails, roads, and other infrastructure in national parks like Minute Man. Specifically, this legislation provides the maximum funding for LWCF, building on a vote by both Representatives in 2019 to permanently authorize the critical program. It also establishes the National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund, which will provide funding to the National Park Service and other federal land management agencies to close the $22 billion deferred maintenance backlog on public lands.
The Great American Outdoors Act was supported by more than 900 organizations, including the Appalachian Mountain Club, the Massachusetts Land Trust Coalition, the Nature Conservancy, and Groundwork Lawrence.
For more on the Great American Outdoors Act, CLICK HERE.
Original story here.