Historic Great American Outdoors Act’s first anniversary is a cause for celebration in Missouri

Media Contacts
Bridget Sanderson

Former State Director, Environment Missouri

Last year’s bipartisan public lands bill is already funding conservation projects across the country

Environment Missouri

JEFFERSON CITY – One year ago this week, the prospect of enjoying Missouri’s outdoor recreation and  natural beauty was enhanced with the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act. Twelve months later, this federal legislation is already making a difference in Missouri. 

Deferred maintenance issues at parks across the state that have been sitting on a backlog for years are now being fixed. For example, the Mark Twain National Forest, which is one of many Missouri outdoor spaces now receiving badly needed financial support, is replacing its aging wooden fencing structure with a safeer, reliable boulder structure. Many of the park’s improvements will encourage further collaborations with the Ozark Trail Association and the community around the Crane Lake Dam to provide a safe outdoor experience in the southern half of the state. 

“Missouri has long been a national leader in conservation efforts, and we are committed to preserving our state’s abundant natural resources,” Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said. “From our alluring lakes, rivers, and streams to our famous Ozark Mountains, Missouri state parks offer some of the best destinations to experience wildlife, explore scenic beauty, and enjoy outdoor recreational activities with friends and family. This year we authorized more than $60 million in bonding authority to improve and maintain our state parks. The Great American Outdoors Act is complementing our state efforts, and this bipartisan achievement will help preserve Missouri’s public lands and natural beauty for generations to come.”

Cody Norris with the Mark Twain National Forest echoed the importance of the Great American Outdoors Act and its impact on the Mark Twain National Forest.

“Since the pandemic we have seen an increase in visitorship, people have been wanting to get outdoors and enjoy camping,” Norris said. “Because of this funding we are able to not only provide safer conditions for returning visitors but we are able to welcome new visitors to show the  importance of our public lands, nature and the ecosystem.” 

He pointed to the Lane Spring electrical upgrade and hydrant replacement project as an example. 

“We only had one electrical outlet in that popular campsite, and new visitors were deterred from coming with their RVs because the one outlet was reserved,” he said “Now we can provide more electrical outlets to encourage people to come to our park” 

One year ago, amid a tense election season, deep polarization and a global pandemic, leadership from both aisles of Congress came together to protect America’s natural heritage. The Great American Outdoors Act, which was signed into law by former President Donald Trump, secured permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) at $900 million annually along with $9.5 billion over five years to update America’s aging public lands infrastructure.

Environment Missouri and Environment America  have prioritized LWCF, America’s best conservation and recreation program, for years. To urge lawmakers to invest in America’s great outdoors, the environmental advocacy group passed out LWCF face masks to lawmakers, created lawn signs and banners, wrote a steady series of op-eds and served as a continual presence on Capitol Hill and in congressional districts.” 

LWCF is a critical framework for protecting endangered species, conserving key habitats and stemming the biodiversity crisis. The fund provides an important source of money for state and local parks and has been used to conserve more than 15 million acres of land — an area roughly the size of West Virginia — across the country over the past 55 years.

While the Great American Outdoors Act is a great victory for all Missourians — and Americans — Environment Missouri will continue to advocate for additional support for our natural wonders.

“Congress should consider building on this bipartisan consensus around protecting our beautiful outdoor spaces by working both to reconnect habitat with wildlife corridors and to fund state wildlife action plans for species of greatest conservation need,” said Environment Missouri State Director Bridget Sanderson. “We need more nature in this country, and the Great American Outdoors Act is playing a crucial role in making that happen.”



Environment Missouri is a non-profit advocate for clean water, clean air, wildlife, and open spaces.