American Samoa congresswoman highlights the Great American Outdoors Act

WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 04: U.S. President Donald Trump signs the Great American Outdoors Act during a singing ceremony in the East Room of the White House on August 4, 2020 in Washington, DC. The new public lands law aims to fix crumbling national park infrastructure and permanently fund The Land and Water Conservation Fund. Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP


By Alfred Acenas
EBC Hawaii Bureau

HONOLULU (Eagle News) – Earlier this week, President Donald Trump signed into law the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA), which American Samoa Representative Aumua Amata said will sustain the National Park of American Samoa, as well as the Land Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

The GAOA will provide new legislative underpinnings for grants and other funding as the LCWF helps support the four main federal land programs: National Parks, National Forests, Fish and Wildlife and Bureau of Land Management. In addition, the Act will support the LWCF in providing grants to state and local governments regarding recreation and conservation.

“The Great American Outdoors Act is a major commitment to all the beautiful places people love to visit, and it is supportive of our own wonderful National Park,” said Amata. “Federal funds make possible long term park maintenance and those local jobs. That continuous proper National Park Service maintenance helps ensure the Park’s permanent value, attraction to visitors, and long term lease payments.”

The GAOA has two major impacts. First, the new law establishes a National Park and Public Lands Legacy Restoration Fund. Congress has established up to $9 billion available nationally over the next five years for deferred maintenance at national parks, wildlife refuges, forests, and other federal lands. Of that, $6.5 billion will be designated to the 419 national park units and locations, including the maintenance funding for the National Park of American Samoa.

“Our National Park is a treasure, and as the only one in the Southern Hemisphere, it has unique aspects in its coral species, wildlife and plant life,” continued Amata.

As for the second major impact, the GAOA guarantees $900 million per year in perpetuity for the LWCF. This flagship conservation program is funded by royalty payments from offshore oil and gas drilling in federal waters, putting that financial support back into conservation.

The LWCF was established in 1964 with an authorization level of $900 million. However, before the GAOA was enacted, full funding had rarely been appropriated.

(Eagle News Service)