A Bright Spot in a Tough Year: Congress is Approving Landmark Legislation to Protect Wild Places

It’s okay if you missed it — after all, the news cycle these days is mostly packed with reports of a pandemic, civil unrest and a rather important election. But several key pieces of legislation have quietly made the rounds in Washington, and they give outdoor folks everywhere a welcome reason to celebrate. Here’s what you need to know:

The Great American Outdoors Act

What: $900 Million is now earmarked annually for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which means that millions of acres will become designated wilderness areas. Other areas will be protected from mining and drilling, and an additional 670 miles of our nation’s rivers will be given protected Wild and Scenic designation. Additional funding has also been directed to address maintenance and infrastructure issues within the National Park system.

Status: Both houses of congress have passed the bill; now it’s on the President’s desk. If his Twitter feed is to be believed, he’ll sign it into law.

Fun Fact: You read that correctly. $900 million EACH YEAR.

Colorado Outdoor Recreation & Economy Act and Protecting America’s Wilderness Act

What: 400,000 acres of land are to be designated as wilderness in Colorado; 1.3 million acres and 1,000 miles of rivers elsewhere in the west will also receive protection.

Status: The house and senate have both passed their own versions of the bill containing this legislation, but they’ll have to agree on one version to send to the president, who can sign or veto it.

Fun Fact: In an epic legislative sleight of hand from congressional democrats, these acts are somehow embedded into the $740 billion National Defense Authorization Act that’s basically the government’s war-machine wish list. If team Trump wants bullets, they’re going to have to protect American wilderness, and lots of it, to get them.