McConnell Urges Support for Landmark Legislation to Preserve and Protect Public Lands
‘Thanks to the bipartisan leadership of colleagues like Senators Daines, Gardner, Portman, Alexander, Manchin, and Warner, we are attending to legislation that will shape the future of the great American outdoors for the better…I’m extremely proud to be a cosponsor of the Great American Outdoors Act. I’m proud of the work our colleagues have put in to get it this far. And I look forward to seeing it pass.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding the Great American Outdoors Act:
“Thanks to the bipartisan leadership of colleagues like Senators Daines, Gardner, Portman, Alexander, Manchin, and Warner, we are attending to legislation that will shape the future of the great American outdoors for the better.
“It’s fitting that the legislation before us comes with the support of such a broad, bipartisan coalition, because our national parks, forests, and other public lands are treasured in every state in the union:
“By the hunters and anglers who look forward to the morning stillness of the Black Hills and the Big South Fork of the Cumberland. By the hikers and campers who plot weekend escapes in Shenandoah and Joshua Tree. By the school groups and researchers who connect with history at Gettysburg and Mesa Verde.
“Every year, hundreds of millions of people -- our fellow Americans, and visitors from around the world -- share the gift of our nation’s public lands.
“And even more Americans in surrounding communities benefit from the jobs and prosperity that are supported by tourism and recreation.
“This country’s public lands comprise a tremendously diverse array of landscapes, wildlife, historical sites, and natural resources.
“They’re spread out across 419 parks, 568 refuges, and hundreds of millions of acres of managed space.
“And they didn’t pop up overnight.
“It’s taken more than a century of dedicated work to designate, acquire, and maintain the public lands Americans enjoy today. And it’s the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which this legislation will give permanent support, that makes them accessible for generations to come.
“Today, more than five million Americans rely directly on outdoor recreation for their livelihood. They contribute to $778 billion dollars in economic activity. In recent years, their industry’s growth has outpaced an economy that was red-hot in its own right.
“A bright future for our public lands is a bright future for our nation. And the predictable, consistent support provided by the LWCF will play a critical role in these efforts.
“Take my home state of Kentucky, for example. For years, I’ve been proud to advocate for LWCF funding to conserve some of the Bluegrass’ precious wilderness and historical sites.
“Back in 1996, Kentucky was the only state without a national wildlife refuge, and it was my legislation that helped secure the creation of one at Clarks River. Last year, additional legislation I authored helped create another sanctuary for wildlife and recreation at the confluence of the Green and Ohio Rivers.
“Already, the Fish and Wildlife Service has marked the Green River Wildlife Refuge as the LWCF’s top funding priority for the coming year. So the dedicated resources in this legislation would be instrumental in the growth of Kentucky’s newest national treasure, along with other areas like Clarks River.
“And as the LWCF drives the preservation of more national wetlands, forests, and battlefield space in Kentucky, I suspect every one of my colleagues is equally proud of similar efforts in their own states.
“This bill advances a noble cause that has the added benefit of being a sound investment. According to one recent analysis, every dollar spent through the Land and Water Conservation Fund turns out four dollars in economic benefits. And every million dollars directed toward the LWCF in turn supports as many as 30 American jobs.
“So I’m extremely proud to be a cosponsor of the Great American Outdoors Act. I’m proud of the work our colleagues have put in to get it this far. And I look forward to seeing it pass.”