RV fans know that the modernization of outdoor recreation-related facilities has been sorely lagging for many years. However, the bipartisan legislation called the Great American Outdoors Act, was overwhelmingly supported and approved on Tuesday, July 22nd. Its goal is to repair ailing infrastructure and protect special natural locations. The passage of the bill has caused those who enjoy the RV lifestyle, overlanding, camping, and other outdoor activities to rejoice.
Largest investment in a century
According to RV News, the legislation was no small matter. It represented the largest investment in public lands in a century. They said,
“The Great American Outdoors Act will invest up to $9.5 billion of nontaxpayer funds to address the infrastructure within the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and other federal agencies. The bill will also fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and provide $900 million per year in investment in the public lands, parks, and trails that are the backbone of the outdoor recreation economy.”
But what does it mean?
The National Park Service attends to 84 million acres of public land. That acreage is spread over 400 different sites across the country. Much of the area has fallen in disrepair and subject to deferred maintenance.
The passage of the bill means that those pesky overgrown trails that lead to facilities with non-functioning bathrooms will likely be addressed soon. But, it does not end there. RV News said,
“Funds provided in the GAOA will help improve outdoor recreation-related facilities that RVers rely on, like campgrounds, roads, bridges, parking lots, restrooms, visitor centers, trails, docks, and more –which have desperately needed updating or repairs for decades. It will help achieve this goal while preserving water quantity and quality, sustaining working landscapes and rural economies.”
RV and outdoor enthusiasts are large in number
RV and outdoor enthusiasts are large in number. Overlanding, vanlifers, ATV/UTV riders, are also spread across the United States. To give some perspective, a gentleman who represents the RV aspect alone said,
“Twenty million RVers across the country depend on our iconic state and federal lands for recreation, conservation, enjoyment, and overnight camping. Enactment of this milestone legislation will mean increased recreation access for all no matter where they live, allowing more Americans to find fulfillment in living an active outdoor lifestyle. – Craig Kirby, RV Industry Association President.
Giving it a bit broader perspective, Mike Happe, President and CEO of Winnebago said of the passage of the GAOA, “This milestone legislation is important not only for the RV industry but also for the greater $778 billion outdoor recreation economy.”
The President will sign the bill
Chris Bornemann, RV Industry Association Director of Government Affairs said, “Thank you, Congress, and the RV Caucus, for providing the resources to reinvigorate our iconic lands and make them safe and modern for all outdoor recreation lovers. We look forward to the President signing the bill, something he has already promised to do.”
Kevin McArt, General Manager at Forest River Inc. offered his own comments,
“As more Americans look to RVs as a way to still get out and see our nation’s majestic public lands while also adhering to social distancing, it is more important than ever for Congress to address the mounting deferred maintenance on these lands through the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act. We applaud Congress for passing this historic legislation”
The love is epic
The passage of the GAOA legislation proves that America’s love and appreciation for the great outdoors is truly epic. Though this article was written with an eye to RV enthusiasts, the reality is that every American has had the opportunity to enjoy the natural wonders of this nation at one time or another. Now, those same great sites will be better maintained and have updated facilities. So, the next time one pulls up to a trailhead at the Shenandoah National Park, or at a historic battlefield like Gettysburg, one can thank the passage of this bill for keeping the site alive and well for this generation and generations to come.