June 17, 2020

Van Hollen Applauds Bipartisan Passage of Great American Outdoors Act

Legislation Benefits Maryland Public Lands, Outdoor Economy

Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) applauded the Senate’s bipartisan passage of the Great American Outdoors Act. This legislation will improve Americans’ access to public lands, ensure the continued preservation of outdoor spaces, and promote economic growth in outdoor recreation. It will also address a serious maintenance backlog at our public lands and provide permanent mandatory funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). LWCF funds are crucial to supporting Maryland public lands, and research on the impact of the LWCF shows that $1 spent generates $4 in economic value from natural resource goods and services alone. Senator Van Hollen is an original cosponsor of the legislation. The legislation will now proceed to consideration in the House of Representatives.

“From Antietam National Battlefield to Assateague Island, Maryland is home to some of America’s greatest historical and natural treasures. This bipartisan bill makes serious investments in our state and our nation’s public lands, our conservation efforts, and our outdoor economy. This measure will help ensure that Marylanders, and visitors from across the U.S., will be able to explore and enjoy these treasures for generations to come,” said Senator Van Hollen. 

The LWCF has provided funding to help protect some of Maryland’s most treasured places and ensure recreational access for hunting, fishing, and other outdoor activities. Maryland has received approximately $231.8 million in LWCF funding over the past five decades, protecting places such as the Assateague Island National Seashore, Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Monocacy National Battlefield, and the C&O Canal National Historic Park.

Forest Legacy Program (FLP) grants are also funded under the LWCF, to help protect working forests. The FLP cost-share funding supports timber sector jobs and sustainable forest operations while enhancing wildlife habitat, water quality and recreation. For example, the FLP contributed to places such as the Broad Creek in Dublin, Maryland and the Coastal Bay project in Snow Hill, Maryland. The FLP assists states and private forest owners to maintain working forest lands through matching grants for permanent conservation easement and fee acquisitions, and has leveraged approximately $4.6 million in federal funds to invest in Maryland’s forests, while protecting air and water quality, wildlife habitat, access for recreation, and other public benefits provided by forests. 

LWCF state assistance grants have further supported hundreds of projects across Maryland’s state and local parks including Conquest Waterfront Preserve in Queen Anne’s County and Seneca State Park in Montgomery County.  

Lastly, active outdoor recreation is an important part of the Maryland economy. The Outdoor Industry Association has found that active outdoor recreation generates $14 billion in consumer spending in Maryland, in addition to 109,000 jobs which generate $4.4 billion in wages and salaries, and produces nearly $951 million annually in state and local tax revenue. Further, the U.S. Census reports that each year over 2.7 million people hunt, fish, or enjoy wildlife-watching in Maryland, contributing over $1.6 billion in wildlife recreation spending to the state economy.

LWCF-funded entities in Maryland include:

Antietam National Battlefield

Assateague Island National Seashore

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

Catoctin Mountain Park

C&O Canal National Historic Park

Douglas Point Greenbelt Park

Monocacy National Battlefield

Nanjemoy Special Recreation Management Area

Patuxent National Wildlife Refuge

Piscataway Park Potomac River

Thomas Stone National Historic Site