WASHINGTON – The Senate advanced the Great American Outdoors Act this week to address the maintenance backlog on national parks and public lands. However, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) and the Public Lands Council (PLC) and 45 other affiliate organizations this week wrote Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Energy and Natural Resources Chair Lisa Murkowski, and Energy and Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Joe Manchin urging Congress to retain its role in safeguarding public lands by opposing the Great American Outdoors (GAO) Act (S.3422).
The GAO Act as written creates more than $14 billion in new, mandatory spending and gives federal agencies free rein to spend $360 million per year solely to acquire new private land without any oversight from Congress. This raises concern among the 48 livestock and natural resource groups who signed the joint letter, as the groups point out the blatant conflict by pairing the mounting disrepair of current land under federal control and allowing rampant acquisition without accounting for management of future land acquisitions.
“As introduced, the GAO Act, and every other bill that preceded it that contained similar provisions, is an irresponsible way to fix a very real problem. Currently, land management agencies like the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, and Bureau of Land Management face staggering backlogs of much-needed maintenance…If passed, the GAO Act sentences hundreds of millions of acres of American land and water to a poorly-managed future,” the groups wrote.
The Senate approved the bill in it’s the first procedural vote on June 8th. The groups are eager to engage in the process, and encourage Congress to vote ‘no’ and find a more responsible way to confront conservation challenges.
To read the full letter and review a complete list of signatories, click here.