Members of the U.S. House of Representatives shouldn't need to dig too deep to find reasons to support the Great American Outdoors Act, which is slated for a vote today.
Among other things, it will provide full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund as well as money to repair infrastructure in our national parks. It has been called a "historic opportunity" and the "single greatest conservation achievement in generations." The Senate already has passed it; President Donald Trump has indicated support.
Let's make this happen.
But just in case any of our reps are wobbling, here are 10 reasons we support it:
1. One of the early appropriations of LWCF money helped acquire what is now Spiva Park in Joplin.
2. Schifferdecker and Cunningham pools. More than $365,000 in LWCF money helped build and improve these two Joplin pools over the years.
3. Three times the fund was used to acquire land for Prairie State Park in Barton County.
4. Four times between 1966 and 1994, LWCF money was used to acquire land or make improvements to Devil's Den State Park in Northwest Arkansas — more than $614,000 to date. Go there in October and you'll realize what a great investment it was.
5. Five is the number of times the city of Miami, Oklahoma, has received grants, ranging from as little as $6,912 to more than $300,000, for city parks and ballfields.
6. Six is the number of national park units in Missouri — everything from George Washington Carver National Monument to Wilson's Creek National Battlefield to Gateway Arch National Park — that could benefit from the billions that will be committed to infrastructure funding for our national parks.
7. Roaring River State Park has received seven LWCF grants over 20 years, five of which were used for acquisitions, one of which was used for utility work and the other for campground development. Remember that the next time you are there.
8. Eight is the number of grants used for improvements or acquisition at Lake Crawford and Crawford State Park in Crawford County, Kansas.
9. Nine is the number of river miles from Two Rivers, where the Current and Jack's Fork rivers meet, to Blue Spring — for our money one of the most spectacular corners of the Ozarks. Ozark National Scenic Riverways has received LWCF money over the years and like most national parks, desperately needs the infrastructure money.
10. The number of miles from Phantom Ranch at the bottom of Grand Canyon National Park to the South Rim if you follow the Bright Angel Trail, along which you can see the aging, leaky and unreliable TransCanyon Water Pipeline. That is the lifeline bringing water from the north rim of the canyon to the overworked, overdeveloped and overwhelmed south side, which gets most of the Grand Canyon's 6 million visitors. The pipeline was an engineering marvel when it was built more than 50 years ago, but it regularly breaks because of internal corrosion, freezing, flooding, falling rocks and more. That's why infrastructure upgrades are needed.
If House members need more reasons, we can get them.