House Sends Bill Backed by Shaheen & Hassan to Permanently Fund LWCF, Address Maintenance Backlog on NH Public Lands to President’s Desk

July 22, 2020

**This bipartisan legislation would help address more than $43 million maintenance backlog in New Hampshire, including the White Mountain National Forest and Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge**

**The bipartisan legislation cosponsored by Shaheen & Hassan cleared the Senate last month**

(Washington, DC)— Today, the House of Representatives passed the Great American Outdoors Act, bipartisan legislation that previously passed the Senate and is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) to permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and provide mandatory funding for deferred maintenance on public lands. The LWCF helps preserve and maintain critical lands for national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and recreational areas in New Hampshire and across the country. 

“This legislation is a boon to New Hampshire conservation efforts and our recreational economy, which is why I fought to get this through the Senate. I’m very glad to see it clear Congress with broad bipartisan support and head to the President’s desk,” said Senator Shaheen. “Numerous parks and sites throughout New Hampshire will qualify for maintenance funding under this legislation, which will help reduce the backlog that’s led to budgetary shortfalls and impacted the long-term sustainability of our most treasured parks, refuges and areas. I urge President Trump to sign the Great American Outdoors Act into law as soon as possible so it can be implemented expeditiously and these urgently needed federal dollars can get out the door.”

“New Hampshire’s public lands help propel economic prosperity and our way of life, and I am pleased that my colleagues in the House have passed this bipartisan bill that will further protect our state’s natural resources,” said Senator Hassan. “The Great American Outdoors Act will provide substantial funding to New Hampshire to help address maintenance backlogs in our federal lands, including the White Mountain National Forest, and bolster protections for our environment. Additionally, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt our economy, this bipartisan legislation will encourage job creation and promote tourism to support our economic recovery.”

New Hampshire has a backlog of more than $43 million in deferred maintenance. The following areas would be eligible for maintenance funding under the Great American Outdoors Act:

  • White Mountain National Forest
  • Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge
  • Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge
  • John Hay National Wildlife Refuge
  • Wapack National Wildlife Refuge
  • Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park
  • Conte National Wildlife Refuge
  • Appalachian Trail

Bill text of the Great American Outdoors Act is available here.

Shaheen and Hassan have led efforts to help secure full funding and permanent authorization for the LWCF, which has helped protect more than 2.5 million acres of land and supported tens of thousands of state and local outdoor recreation projects throughout the nation. Shaheen and Hassan’s bipartisan bill to permanently reauthorize the LWCF was included in legislation that was signed into law last year. A senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Shaheen successfully secured $495 million in federal funding – $60 million over previous funding levels – for the LWCF in government funding legislation signed into law in December. Shaheen and Hassan are cosponsors of the Restore Our Parks Act, bipartisan legislation that would address the $20 billion backlog in long delayed maintenance projects on public lands. 

Earlier this month, Shaheen visited Glen Ellis Falls to discuss the deferred maintenance needs of the White Mountain National Forest (WMNF) and highlight the importance of permanently funding the LWCF, which helps preserve and maintain sites like Glen Ellis Falls. The WMNF, where Glen Ellis Falls is located, would also be eligible for maintenance funding under the legislation that cleared the House today. Additionally, last week Hassan toured the Jigger Johnson campground and hiked to Rocky Gorge in the White Mountain National Forest to discuss how the Great American Outdoors Act will benefit these sites.