Silver Spring, MD—In anticipation of the House of Representatives passage of the Great American Outdoors Act, American Hiking Society (AHS), provides these statements:
Kate Van Waes, Executive Director, American Hiking Society: “Final passage of the Great American Outdoors Act is a major victory for the hiking community that will expand access to the outdoors for all. With the pandemic shining a bright light on the need for equitable access to natural spaces, securing LWCF permanent funding and tackling a substantial portion of the public lands maintenance backlog will greatly increase recreation opportunities on public lands and in neighborhoods across the country, including those that have historically lacked access.”
Janelle Paciencia, NextGen Trail Leader, American Hiking Society: “Systemic racism has created high barriers for marginalized peoples to access the outdoors and while the Great American Outdoors Act won’t solve the issue of how we can diversify our outdoor spaces, I believe it will give Black, Indigenous, and People of Color a fighting chance to take up space. Why? Because this legislation guarantees that funding will be made available for future generations to continue to conserve our public spaces by permanently funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and fixing the public lands maintenance backlog, which will address recreation and conservation needs in every state across our country. As a future ancestor, I urge this historic piece of legislation to be quickly signed into law, which will act as a stepping stone for our real work to help create equitable access for all generations of peoples to come.”
Background: For years, American Hiking Society has mobilized the hiking and trails community to advocate for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and address the public lands maintenance backlog through hundreds of congressional visits during Hike the Hill®, sending thousands of messages to Congress, and activating our nearly 400,000 social media followers and the more than 44 million people who hike each year in the US. American Hiking, along with a small coalition, was instrumental in securing an inclusive public lands maintenance solution that included the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Indian Education prior to final passage.