VICTORY: Climbers Help Pass Great American Outdoors Act

We’re thrilled to report that the Great American Outdoors Act, one of the most important conservation bills of our lifetime, just passed through Congress—and climbers helped make it happen. The bill is now on its way to the President’s desk, and he has agreed to sign it into law.

Kings Canyon National Park, Bishop, CA is on ancestral lands of Western Mono/Monache and Eastern Mono/Monache | © Kennan Harvey

Well over a decade of hard-fought advocacy has finally paid off, and America’s public lands will now reap the benefits. There are two critical parts to this landmark, bipartisan bill—one permanently funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and the other invests billions of dollars in critical repairs at our national parks, forests, and other public lands. In total, this means up to a $2.8 billion a year investment to expand, maintain, and improve public lands.

We’d like to thank the members of Congress who voted for the bill, as well as the climbing community—that’s you!—for sending thousands of letters to your Congressional representatives to remind them that public lands are critical assets that deserve investment. Your hard work has paid off and America is better for it. Not only do public lands benefit all Americans, but they are home to nearly 60% of climbing in this country and are crucial to the future of our sport.

“This victory proves once again that climbers and other outdoor enthusiasts can go to Washington, D.C. and win,” says Chris Winter, Executive Director of Access Fund. “By writing letters, calling our elected leaders, and speaking up for what we believe in, we can create the future we want to see for public lands.”

There is still a lot of work to be done to defend public lands. The administration is actively working to weaken the National Environmental Policy Act, climate change demands meaningful action from Congress, and it’s time to invest in a modern day Conservation Corps program to help generate jobs, improve equity in the outdoors, and jumpstart local economies by enhancing America’s recreation infrastructure and conservation initiatives. And, place-based conservation bills—such as the CORE Act and the Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation, and Working Forests Act—are still on the table.

Take a moment to celebrate this historic win, but then let's get back to work. The passage of the Great American Outdoors Act proves that the climbing community is a powerful and effective when we come together. Now we need to build on this momentum to reach our vision of America’s public lands as a space that unites us all.