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Senator Collins Urges Colleagues to Pass Bipartisan Bill to Permanently Fund LWCF, Provide Funding for National Parks

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Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Susan Collins delivered remarks from the Senate floor urging her colleagues to pass the Great American Outdoors Act, a bipartisan bill she cosponsored to provide full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and to address the deferred maintenance backlog on our national parks, national wildlife refuges, and national forest lands.


In addition to Senator Collins, the Great American Outdoors Act was introduced by Senators Angus King (I-ME), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Steve Daines (R-MT), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Rob Portman (R-OH), Mark Warner (D-VA), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Richard Burr (R-NC) and has 59 Senate cosponsors.


“More than fifty years ago, the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act established America’s most successful conservation and outdoor recreation program – there is truly nothing else like it,” said Senator Collins.  “Just last year, this important program was permanently authorized.  And now, we have an opportunity to ensure for the American people that this program will have consistent funding to play the strongest possible role in preserving open spaces, special lands, and revitalizing communities for years to come.”


“This bill will help Acadia National Park tackle the more than $60 million of maintenance backlog work on trails, roads, bridges, and buildings to ensure every visitor can experience the absolute beauty of this true gem of a park on the Maine coastline,” Senator Collins continued.  “I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this important legislation.”


Senator Collins has led efforts to support LWCF for more than a decade.  In 2005, Senator Collins, along with former Senator and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, led bipartisan efforts in the Senate to secure funding for the LWCF stateside program.


Last year, legislation to permanently authorize LWCF was enacted with Senator Collins’ strong support.  Additionally, Senator Collins joined a bipartisan group in introducing legislation to permanently fund LWCF at $900 million per year.  LWCF has only been funded at its maximum authorization level of $900 million twice in its history.


Over the last five decades, Maine has received more than $191 million in funding from LWCF. Examples of LWCF funding include the Cold Stream Forest, a Forest Legacy project; and the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge, where an undeveloped 110-acre tract along the coast in Biddeford was preserved for natural habitat and expanded recreational access.  Of the more than 850 LWCF sites in Maine, 650 are community-based projects, from Riverside Park in Fort Kent to Haley Soccer Fields in Kittery.


The Restore Our Parks Act, which was led by Senators King, Portman, Warner, and Alexander and co-sponsored by Senator Collins, would establish the “National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund” to reduce the maintenance backlog at our national parks, national wildlife refuges, and national forest lands by allocating existing revenues the government receives from on and offshore energy development. This funding would come from 50 percent of all revenues that are not otherwise allocated and deposited into the General Treasury not to exceed $1.9 billion each year for the next five years.

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