The Great American Outdoors Act Benefits The Economy

At A Time When America’s Economy Can Use A Boost, Sen. Cory Gardner’s And Sen. Steve Daines’ Great American Outdoors Act Will Revitalize Our National Parks And Protect Public Lands, Supporting Billions In Economic Activity


“At a time of national crises, the Senate has been able to come together on a topic both parties celebrate: the great outdoors…. [L]awmakers have reached bipartisan agreement on an election-year deal to double spending on a popular conservation program and devote nearly $2 billion a year to improve and maintain national parks. If approved by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump, the Great American Outdoors Act would be the most significant conservation legislation enacted in nearly half a century. The bill, set for a Senate vote this coming week, would spend about $2.8 billion per year on conservation, outdoor recreation and park maintenance.” (“In Time Of Crises, Lands Bill Gives Senate A Chance To Unite,” The Associated Press, 6/13/2020)


‘This Is An Economic And Jobs Package As Much As It Is A Conservation Package,’ Supporting Hundreds Of Thousands Of Jobs And Billions In Economic Activity In Communities In And Around America’s Public Lands

SEN. CORY GARDNER (R-CO), Great American Outdoors Act Sponsor: “We also know the impact that this bill has right now on our economy. You know, when we started working on this legislation, we were talking about its economic impact and what it would mean, but we were talking about it in terms of the overall outdoor recreation economy, which in Colorado is $28 billion and growing, the 5.2 million Americans who are employed in the outdoor recreation economy, and then COVID hit. And we saw what happened in Western Colorado as ski industries, ski slopes shut down two months early, as hotels were emptied, as restaurants were emptied. This bill will create 100,000 jobs, restoring our National Parks, repairing trails and forest systems. It does so at a time when we have high unemployment rates in those communities surrounded by public lands because of the shutdown of the coronavirus. This is an economic and jobs package as much as it is a conservation package.” (Sen. Gardner, Remarks, 6/10/2020)

“In 2019, 328 million park visitors spent an estimated $21.0 billion in local gateway regions while visiting National Park Service lands across the country. These expenditures supported a total of 341,000 jobs … and $41.7 billion in economic output in the national economy.” (“Visitor Spending Effects - Economic Contributions of National Park Visitor Spending,” National Park Service Website, Accessed 6/15/2020)

“In FY 2017, 53.6 million people visited [National Wildlife Refuges]. Their spending generated $3.2 billion of sales in local economies. As this spending flowed through the economy, over 41,000 people were employed …” (“Banking On Nature: The Economic Contributions of National Wildlife Refuge Recreational Visitation to Local Communities,” U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Website, 5/01/2020)

In Fiscal Year 2018, outdoor recreation on Bureau of Land Management lands generated $6.8 billion in economic output and supported 47,000 jobs. (“The BLM: A Sound Investment for America 2019,” Bureau of Land Management, 9/2019)

“Recreationists, outfitters, and guides benefit directly from National Forest System land while local businesses benefit from spending by forest visitors. Total spending by visitors to forest and grasslands across the nation is about $9.5 billion annually.” (“Benefits To People,” U.S. Forest Service, Accessed 6/15/2020)


Full Funding For The Land And Water Conservation Fund Will Help ‘Federal Lands That Are Key To Local Recreation And Tourism Industries’ And Right Now, ‘They Need This Boost’

SEN. STEVE DAINES (R-MT), Great American Outdoors Act Sponsor: “The Land and Water Conservation money invests in Montana's outdoor economy, and it helps create jobs in our rural and gateway communities. Let me tell you something. They are struggling right now because our national parks were closed for too long, and they need this boost by getting this passed.” (Sen. Daines, Congressional Record, S.2779, 6/09/2020)

“[The Land and Water Conservation Fund] protects federal lands that are key to local recreation and tourism industries, and visitors to these areas spend money on food, lodging and equipment …”       (“Our Land, Our Water, Our Heritage: Economic Benefits Of The Land And Water Conservation Fund,” Land & Water Conservation Fund Coalition, Accessed 6/15/2020)


In Kentucky Alone, Outdoor Recreation Supports 120,000 Jobs And Contributes $12.8 Billion In Consumer Spending And ‘LWCF Funding To Conserve Some Of The Bluegrass’ Precious Wilderness And Historical Sites’ Will Enhance That Impact

SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MITCH McCONNELL (R-KY): “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…. 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.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 6/10/2020)

  • SEN. McCONNELL: “Our state has newly designated public lands that need attention to get off the ground. We have well-established public lands that have opportunities to grow and improve. And we have places like the Daniel Boone National Forest, established more than 80 years ago, that need our careful attention and upkeep. The legislation before the Senate will help with all of them. It will help us repair levees at the Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge. It will help our two Wildlife Refuges continue to grow. It will help Mill Springs Battlefield and Camp Nelson keep teaching the history of emancipation and the Civil War to new generations. It will help us make infrastructure upgrades at Mammoth Cave National Park for the safety of two million annual visitors. It will help enhance the Land Between the Lakes and its $600 million economic impact. It will fund transportation and structural maintenance in the Daniel Boone National Forest, which supports more than 900 jobs. It will help us rehabilitate the Cumberland Gap, and give future Americans the opportunity to literally follow in the footsteps of our early explorers. Kentucky is proud of our public lands. We are proud of the role our natural inheritance plays in our vibrant present and our promising future. And of course, we are just one state. Every one of my Senate colleagues has parks, forests, refuges, and historic sites they’re equally proud of. That are equally central in their communities.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 6/11/2020)

In Kentucky, outdoor recreation supports 120,000 jobs and contributes $12.8 billion in consumer spending, which generates $3.6 billion in wages and salaries and produces $756 million in state and local tax revenue. (Outdoor Industry Association, Accessed 6/15/2020)

In 2019, 1.8 million park visitors spent an estimated $114 million in local gateway regions while visiting National Park Service lands in Kentucky. These expenditures supported a total of 1,610 jobs … and $147 million in economic output in the Kentucky economy.” (“Visitor Spending Effects - Economic Contributions of National Park Visitor Spending,” National Park Service Website, Accessed 6/15/2020)

In Eastern Kentucky, the Daniel Boone National Forest supports over 900 recreation and resource management jobs and receives nearly 2 million visitors each year. (“Daniel Boone National Forest: Forest Facts,” U.S. Forest Service, 6/2020)

In Western Kentucky, the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area generates more than $600 million for the regional tourism industry and receives nearly 2 million visitors each year. (“Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area: Forest Facts,” U.S. Forest Service, 6/2020)


Related Issues: Infrastructure, Jobs, Economy