Earlier this month the Great American Outdoors Act was passed into law. While many of the details of how, when and where funds from the Act will be used has yet to be determined, we’ve put together a brief overview for you of the purpose of this Act in assisting national parks around the country.

What is the Great American Outdoors Act?

The Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) was originally sponsored by the late Rep. John Lewis of Georgia and was signed into law by President Trump on August 4th.

The act “establishes the National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund to support maintenance backlog projects on federal lands.” Over the next several years, the National Park Service, the Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Indian Education will benefit from a $9.5 billion investment aimed at repairing aging infrastructure in these special places. In addition, the GAOA guarantees $900 million per year in perpetuity for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

How these funds will be distributed and managed by the parks has not been determined yet.

What are “maintenance backlog projects?

The U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources states that “Throughout the national park system, an enormous backlog of deferred maintenance is eroding the visitor experience and threatening the very resources that the National Park Service was created to protect. According to the National Park Service the cost of deferred maintenance has reached $11.6 billion.”

This maintenance backlog includes projects ranging from road and building repairs to water system upgrades and trail maintenance. Learn more here.

What does this mean for your OBX National Parks?

In 2018 it was estimated that Wright Brothers National Memorial, Fort Raleigh National Historic Site and Cape Hatteras National Seashore have a combined maintenance backlog of over $50 million. It is not clear yet if your OBX national parks will receive funding from the Great American Outdoors Act, and may not be clear for some time. If funds are received from the act, they will be restricted to only projects in the current backlog.

While the GAOA is an incredible advancement in the protection of our parks, it does not provide funding for educational, scientific or cultural programs or new projects to help you experience your parks, which is why Outer Banks Forever exists. With your support, we will help fund projects such as an Aviation Trail Through Time at Wright Brothers National Memorial, an Artist in Community program and new webcams at all three parks. (These are just a few of our projects—be sure to check out the Impact page on our website for a full list!)

How can I support my OBX National Parks today?

Supporting your OBX National Parks will help protect and enhance these places you love for future generations. Together, we can preserve history, educate youth, advance science and create new experiences in your OBX national parks. Your parks tell the story of the Outer Banks, and through these stories we learn how our beloved barrier islands have influenced not only our nation’s history, but also world history. 

Here are a few ways you can join us in protecting your OBX National Parks today: