The U.S. House of Representatives took an historic vote on July 22 when it approved the Great American Outdoors Act, a bill that will invest in priority repairs at National Park Service (NPS) sites in Wisconsin and across the country. From the Ice Age Trail National Scenic Trail to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, needed repairs in Wisconsin’s NPS sites total $21.9 million, just part of the multi-billion maintenance backlog threatening park resources and local eco-nomies.
The Senate passed the legislation by an overwhelming bipartisan vote in June. The bill will also address repairs on other public lands and permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund, an important tool that preserves access to public lands and provides resources to urban and rural communities for recreation facilities.
“The Ice Age Trail and national park sites in Wisconsin are seeing record visitation, but their infrastructure is aging and needs repair,” said Mike Wollmer, Executive Director of the Ice Age Trail Alliance. “The bipartisan Great American Outdoors Act will address the most critical maintenance needs of our national parks and invest in conservation which is good for our economy, job creation, and preserving these treasurers for years to come.”
The legislation is the most significant investment in almost 65 years for national parks and public lands. Equally important, it will help our local community and businesses get back on their feet and will generate more jobs. According to the National Park Service, in 2019 alone, visitors to Wisconsin’s national parks spent $52 million in local economies.
Park tourism contributes over $41.7 billion to the national economy annually and supports over 340,000 jobs. This legislation has the backing of 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.