We’re pleased to announce that on August 4, 2020, the Great American Outdoors Act was signed into law, with the goal of permanently funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund and restoring U.S. national parks. The Act will use revenues from energy development to provide up to $1.9 billion a year for five years to provide needed maintenance for critical facilities and infrastructure in national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, recreation areas, and American Indian schools. It will also use royalties from offshore oil and natural gas to fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund with approximately $900 million a year to invest in conservation and recreation opportunities across the country.
US/ICOMOS, along with many other preservation and conservation organizations, advocated for this significant legislation’s passage. Now that it has become law, US/ICOMOS President Douglas C. Comer has written to Acting NPS Director David Vela to urge the NPS to prioritize deferred maintenance funding for the national park system units that are also World Heritage Sites. Collectively, the 19 units of the national park system that are also inscribed onto the World Heritage List have compiled almost $4 billion in unfunded maintenance needs. This total is nearly one-third of the total NPS backlog.
In his letter to Acting Director Vela, Douglas Comer wrote, “These 19 NPS units are among the best known and most highly visited parks in the USA, both for domestic and international travelers. In the next several years, as the USA and the world begin to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, we assume that both domestic and international travel will resume, and as a nation, we ought to strive to have restored our most iconic parks – our World Heritage Sites – to pristine condition, and thus be able to proudly welcome the world to these places that demonstrate outstanding universal values.”
US/ICOMOS will continue to advocate for funding this much-needed work in our most iconic national parks and historic sites as we move ahead with our new webinar series about World Heritage in the United States. Read President Douglas Comer’s entire letter here.