Great American Outdoors Act signed into law

Legislation will send billions to parks and conservation — including redwoods

Giant sequoia grove in Sequoia National Park.
Sequoia National Park is one of many parks in California to benefit from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Photo by Nate Steiner.

President Donald Trump this week signed new legislation that will lock in billions of dollars for national parks, outdoor recreation facilities, and land conservation — including redwoods. Called the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA), the bill is one of the most important conservation bills to come out of Washington, D.C., in decades.

The Great American Outdoors Act allocates $9.5 billion to repair and upgrade campgrounds, trails, and other facilities at national parks and other public lands where these amenities have fallen into disrepair, and this could include many redwood parks that haven’t been updated in years. Second, it guarantees $900 million a year for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) in perpetuity, which could fund much-needed conservation work in the coast redwood and giant sequoia ranges.

“The passage of the Great American Outdoors Act, including its permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, is one of the most consequential federal actions in land conservation and outdoor recreation in 50 years,” said Sam Hodder, President and CEO of Save the Redwoods League. 

“This will have huge implications for park and public land investments for decades, including an extraordinary opportunity to accelerate the pace and scale of land conservation and stewardship in California’s coast redwood and giant sequoia forests—fire-resilient landscapes that have the potential to sequester more carbon per acre than any other forest in the world.”

The Great American Outdoors Act moved quickly through Congress with wide bipartisan support. The final steps came when the House of Representatives passed the bill on July 22, and sent it to the president’s desk for signature. Thousands of Save the Redwoods League supporters sent messages to legislators in support of the legislation.

Redwoods have inspired generations of Americans, and as we collectively recognize the inequities of that shared experience in the past, the GAOA offers the opportunity to invest in land acquisition, infrastructure, and programming for redwood parks in a way that enhances equity in access, climate and fire resilience, and engagement of California’s tribal communities,” Hodder added.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund has been one of America’s most useful and cost-effective conservation programs, using oil drilling revenue instead of taxpayer funds. Muir Woods National Monument and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks have been enhanced thanks to this funding source, and current League projects like Mailliard Ranch, Red Hill and Alder Creek in Giant Sequoia National Monument, Freshwater Ridge near Redwood National Park, and the Westfall property adjacent to Headwaters Forest Reserve are all dependent on LWCF for protection.

The League has a number of shovel-ready park improvement projects that could benefit from funding from the Great American Outdoors Act or Land and Water Conservation Fund in the coast redwood and giant sequoia ranges. This includes the creation of a new redwood destination on the 730-acre Harold Richardson Redwoods Reserve in Sonoma County, and the vital restoration on the 530-acre Alder Creek giant sequoia property in the Sierra Nevada.

About the author

Since 1918, Save the Redwoods League has protected and restored redwood forests and connected people with their peace and beauty so these wonders of the natural world flourish.

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