Billions for national parks as historic bill becomes law

After spending his presidency denying climate change, placing coal and oil industry officials in top environmental jobs, and weakening dozens of public health and wildlife rules, President Donald Trump reversed course and signed a historic law to pump billions of dollars into long-neglected repairs and upgrades at America’s national parks.

The measure, known as the “Great American Outdoors Act,” is the most significant new federal conservation law in 40 years.

Environmentalists cheered, finally securing a win they have sought for more than 20 years. “The Great American Outdoors Act is a truly historic, bipartisan conservation accomplishment that will protect wildlife habitat, expand recreational opportunities, restore public lands and waters, and create good jobs,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation.

The new law makes two landmark changes. First, it will provide $9.5 billion over the next five years to repair roads, restrooms, trails and campgrounds at America’s 419 national parks — from Yosemite to the Everglades — and at other public lands where facilities have fallen into disrepair after years of neglect and funding shortfalls.

Second and more enduring, the bill would guarantee $900 million a year to the Land and Water Conservation Fund in perpetuity. Congress created the fund in 1964, requiring that up to $900 million a year in offshore oil revenues go to buy new park land and maintain local parks as a way for outdoor conservation and recreation to keep pace with a growing population.

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