New analysis: Nevadans are going outdoors in large numbers, indicating need to pass federal Great American Outdoors Act
LAS VEGAS -– A new fact sheet released by Environment Nevada Research and Policy Center Thursday shows Nevadans have been flocking to the outdoors in significant numbers in recent months.
“In these difficult times, Nevadans are looking to the physical, emotional and spiritual relief that Nevada’s public lands offer,” said Environment Nevada’s state director Levi Kamolnick. “With visitor numbers expected to remain high even once the COVID-19 panademic ends, we need to invest in the American outdoors by passing this critical legislation and providing full and permanent funding for conservation programs like the Land and Water Conservation Fund.”
This analysis comes just over a month after the U.S. Senate voted to pass the Great American Outdoors Act, a bipartisan bill to permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) at $900 million annually and provide $9.5 billion over five years to fix maintenance problems that are plaguing America’s public lands. Both Nevada Senators Cortez Masto and Rosen voted for the legislation, having been longtime champions of LWCF. The bill is now in the hands of the House and is expected to be voted on next Wednesday, July 22.
The Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources estimates that if the Great American Outdoors Act were to pass, roughly twice as much money could flow toward protecting Nevada’s vital outdoor areas. LWCF is funded through offshore drilling fees, coming at no cost to taxpayers.
The new Environment Nevada Research and Policy Center factsheet was announced in a video telepresser featuring Reps. Dina Titus and Susie Lee, Clark County Parks and Recreation Director Dan Hernandez, Meghan Wolf with Patagonia and the Nevada Outdoor Business Coalition, and Deja Wargo-Cole with the Institute for a Progressive Nevada.
Congresswoman Dina Titus said, “I’ve been working on this issue for a long time and since my district is the most urban part of Nevada, people ask why I’m concerned about recreation and the outdoors. But the people who live in my district need to have a place to go and it’s these places around the city that provide that...our parks, our lakes, our forests, our canyons, these beautiful places we go to enjoy and just have our spirits revitalized have a real and growing impact on the state’s economy. Last year, I was proud to vote to permanently authorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund and next week, we’ll cast a vote in favor of the Great American Outdoors Act. This is really historic.”
Congresswoman Susie Lee said, “There is not a day that goes by where I am not somehow enjoying our public lands. There have been many catastrophes because of this pandemic, but I do think there also have been some silver linings as well, like an understanding of how important our natural resources and our public lands are, not just to the economy but to our quality of life. I was proud to join 217 Members of Congress in co-sponsoring the Great American Outdoors Act, and we need to not only fully fund it, but to permanently fund it.”
Clark County Parks and Recreation Director Dan Hernandez said, “We have seen a huge increase in the amount of traffic at our parks right now. People are getting out with their families and we’ve seen during this shutdown just how important our open spaces and parklands are. If you go up to the Wetlands Park, you see people there all the time, walking their dogs, taking walks with their families. LWCF is vital and has provided some fantastic land preservation opportunities.”
Meghan Wolf with Patagonia and the Nevada Outdoor Business Coalition said, “In Nevada, the Outdoor Recreation economy is responsible for 87,000 jobs, $12.6 billion in consumer spending and $1.1 billion in state and local tax revenues. These numbers speak to the strength and importance of the outdoor recreation economy, something that we didn’t talk about much a few years ago. And we are very fortunate to have a strong outdoor recreation economy. In a state where a couple of industries dominate, it is important to diversify and expand the pillars that bolster our economy.”
Deja Wargo-Cole with the Institute for a Progressive Nevada said, “The Land and Water Conservation Fund is America’s most important conservation and recreation program. The Act was established in 1965 to provide funding for the conservation of special public lands. Places like Red Rock Canyon, the Toiyabe National Forest and many more have been funded through LWCF. We’re excited to see the House quickly vote for this legislation.”