Lost in all the drama of late was a milestone moment for conservation and public lands that deserves a resounding cheer.
The U.S. Senate recently passed the Great American Outdoors Act, which commits $900 million a year to the Land and Water Conservation Fund for parks, conservation and outdoor initiatives. That's double what is being spent now.
There's the Hip!
It also commits another $1.9 billion per year to improvements at national parks, forests and wildlife refuges, including a backlog of projects that have gone unattended, everything from the water system at Grand Canyon National Park to historic structures in our nation's Civil War parks.
There's another Hip!
U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt was one of the leaders who helped push this through.
So, our thanks.
The House is expected to pass it, and President Donald Trump has said he will support it and in a tweet said it "will be HISTORIC for our beautiful public lands.''
There's the Hooray!
This isn't just about our national parks, beloved as they are. LCWF money is used at the state and local level too. Grants have helped fund acquisitions and improvements at many of our favorite state parks, as well as at Spiva Park in Joplin, improvements at the former Schifferdecker Pool and much more around the area.
Theresa Pierno, president and CEO for the National Parks Conservation Association, said: “For five years, NPCA, park advocates and communities across the country have urged Congress to fix our parks. NPCA’s members and supporters sent nearly 100,000 letters, made hundreds of phone calls and countless visits to members of Congress. Today, those efforts paid off as we moved closer than ever before to ensuring that our national parks get the funding they need and deserve. This bill is one of our best opportunities to do this in more than 50 years."
Our public places are common ground, meaning both sides agree on protecting them and passing them on to the next generation, hopefully in better shape than they are now.
The Great American Outdoors Act is a big step down that trail.