Opinion: Applauding the Great American Outdoors Act is no devil’s bargain. We’re all winners.

Source: 
Colorado Sun
Hannah Collazo

In Dana Egleston’s  recent opinion piece “The Great American Outdoors Act drew bipartisan back-patting. But what are we celebrating?” published July 24, there were several misleading assertions made about the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) that deserve attention —  especially now that the GAOA has been signed into law.

Passed by a bipartisan vote in both the U.S. House and Senate, the GAOA fully and permanently funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and provides $9.5 billion over five years to fix maintenance problems that are plaguing America’s public lands.

The legislation is a monumental advance for the protection of our public lands. For more than 50 years, the LWCF has not only been a safeguard for wide open spaces but also a key resource for expanding access to parks and recreation in our own neighborhoods. At the same time, until now, it had been chronically underfunded. 

It is now, more than ever, necessary to not only acquire and protect public lands, but also maintain them. COVID-19 has pushed people out of their houses to seek solitude in Colorado’s public lands.

In fact, a new study published by Frontier Group found a 40% increase in public land access in Colorado during March 2020 compared to March 2019. Coloradans are seeking emotional, physical and spiritual rest and can find that outside.

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