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Spanberger Welcomes Passage of the Great American Outdoors Act

WASHINGTON (July 22, 2020) – House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry Chair Abigail Spanberger of Virginia welcomed passage today of the Great American Outdoors Act, legislation that among other items sets aside funding to address billions in deferred maintenance across the country’s National Forests.

“Approximately 66 million Americans in more than 3,000 communities depend on Forest Service systems for drinking water and wastewater services, while the infrastructure in our National Forests enables a thriving recreation industry that helps to strengthen rural economies,” Spanberger said. “More than 149 million people visit our National Forests each year, contributing over $10 billion to the U.S. economy and supporting about 143,000 jobs in mostly gateway and rural communities.

“Unfortunately, the maintenance of our forest infrastructure isn’t what it needs to be to meet the needs of all those who count on our National Forests to work and play,” she added. “Nationally, the Forest Service has a deferred maintenance backlog of $5.2 billion dollars. Across my home state of Virginia, the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests report an estimated $56 million in deferred maintenance costs.

“Today’s vote builds upon the Subcommittee’s efforts to respond to the deferred maintenance needs of the U.S. Forest Service,” said Spanberger. “The Great American Outdoors Act recognizes healthy and updated infrastructure as key to securing the conservation, economic, and social benefits people receive from our National Forests. The bill will provide much needed funding for critical maintenance and repairs, and I am happy to see it pass on to the President’s desk today.”
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