ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Marylanders have rallied in great numbers in support of the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA), a landmark federal environmental bill that they hope will soon pass through the U.S. House of Representatives. Thirty-six conservation groups representing tens of thousands of members in Maryland organized by the Maryland League of Conservation Voters recently wrote to Majority Leader Steny Hoyer in support of the bill and his leadership.
“Steny Hoyer has been a champion for America’s parks for decades, and the importance of his work to protect our most special places has never been more evident than it is now,” said Kim Coble, Executive Director of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters. “Over the past few months, we’ve been reminded just how essential our parks and open space are to our physical and mental health. We greatly appreciate the tremendous leadership shown by Leader Hoyer as he has moved the Great American Outdoors Act through Congress.”
The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) — which would be permanently funded through the Great American Outdoor Act — has played a crucial role in protecting Maryland’s natural treasures over the past five decades, including such places as the Assateague Island National Seashore, Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Monocacy National Battlefield and the C&O Canal National Historic Park. Maryland has also used the LWCF to leverage even more Program Open Space money to fund hundreds of facilities and open up access at local and state parks.
“The Great American Outdoors Act also addresses the incredibly important problem of the National Park Service maintenance backlog,” adds Coble. “Even before the economic slowdown caused by coronavirus, these resources were facing unprecedented pressures and threats.” Coble points out that in Maryland alone, national parks currently have a $244,457,125 backlog.
In addition to organizing 36 Maryland conservation groups to thank Leader Hoyer and urge his continued leadership, Maryland LCV has reached hundreds of thousands of Marylanders through drive-time radio ads and extensive on-line advocacy in both English and Spanish. The on-line ads reached thousands in support of the bill and generated hundreds of petition-signers.
“Our members and Marylanders throughout the state clearly consider this bill to be a top priority,” said Water Program Director Ben Alexandro, who has managed the GAOA legislative effort for Maryland LCV. “They know that great parks and open green spaces make stronger, healthier communities. And they appreciate Leader Hoyer’s leadership in moving this bill through Congress.”