COOKEVILLE— The U.S. House of Representatives took an historic vote on July 22 when it approved the Great American Outdoors Act, a bill that will invest in priority repairs at National Park Service (NPS) sites in Tennessee and across the country. In Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area alone, deferred maintenance needs total $16,844,835, just part of the multi-billion backlog threatening park resources and local economies.
The Senate passed the legislation by an overwhelming bipartisan vote in June. Yesterday, all nine Tennessee Representatives voted in favor of the bill. The bill will also address repairs on other public lands and permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund, an important tool that preserves access to public lands and provides resources to urban and rural communities for recreation facilities.
“Our parks and historic sites have been in need of repair for years. This bill will help restore the integrity of these important and beautiful places,” said Amy New, President and CEO of the Cookeville Chamber of Commerce. “We thank Rep. John Rose, who voted for the Great American Outdoors Act.”
The legislation is the most significant investment in almost 65 years for national parks and public lands. Equally important, it will help our local community and businesses get back on their feet and will generate more jobs.
“Our local economy depends on the tourism dollars that our park sites generate. According to NPS, in 2019 alone, visitors spent $717 million in gateway communities across Tennessee,” said New. “Our parks need to be in good shape to ensure they’re accessible and safe for visitors, who in turn support our economy.”
Park tourism contributes over $41.7 billion to the national economy annually and supports over 340,000 jobs. This legislation has the backing of more than 900 organizations including local towns and cities, the recreation industry, veterans’ groups, hotel and lodging, infrastructure associations, preservation groups, hunters and anglers, conservation organizations and local businesses.