• Range Writing

Great American Outdoors Act

Updated: Jun 20, 2020

Groups Criticize Senate for Irresponsible Passage of Land Grab Legislation.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Executive Director of Natural Resources and the Public Lands Council Executive Director, Kaitlynn Glover, released the following statement in response to the Senate passage of the Great American Outdoors Act:

“Today’s passage of the Great American Outdoors Act is a disappointment to those who value conservation and active management of our natural resources. By making funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) mandatory, proponents of this bill sentenced existing and future lands and waters to the same fate facing current federal assets – billions of dollars in deferred maintenances. Today is indeed a landmark day – with this legislation, Congress has abdicated their responsibility and privilege to engage in these important conservation decision. I hope they are more prudent in representing their constituents when setting conservation priorities in future legislation.“

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) and the Public Lands Council (PLC) and many other affiliate organizations had sent a letter to 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.

{Public Lands Council press release}

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