President Trump on Tuesday signed into law a bipartisan bill that will tap energy revenues to address a $12 billion backlog of maintenance projects on federal lands, including more than $459 million in national parks in North Carolina.
Introduced in 2019 by the late Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., the Great American Outdoors Act also makes funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund permanent. Earlier this year, the Trump administration had proposed significant cuts to the fund.
Republican 3rd District Congressman Greg Murphy voted for the bill, which the House passed July 22.
Murphy’s office noted in a press release in July that Cape Hatteras National Seashore will receive $49,834,106, and Cape Lookout National Seashore will receive $27,718,515 as a result of the legislation.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund supports national forests, refuges and parks, including the Croatan National Forest, Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, Cedar Island National Wildlife Refuge, Currituck National Wildlife Refuge Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge, Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge, Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, Swan Quarter National Wildlife Refuge, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Cape Lookout National Seashore, the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site and the Wright Brothers National Memorial.
The bill establishes the National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund to support deferred maintenance projects on federal lands. For the next five years, an amount equal to half of energy development revenues from oil, gas, coal and alternative or renewable energy development on federal lands and waters is to be deposited into the fund, up to $1.9 billion for any year.
The fund must be used for priority deferred maintenance projects in specified systems that are administered by the National Park Service, the Forest Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Indian Education.
Interior Secretary David L. Bernhardt announced Tuesday that entrance fees paid by those visiting lands managed by the department would be waived Wednesday. Bernhardt also announced that Aug. 4 will be designated “Great American Outdoors Day,” a fee-free day each year to commemorate the signing of the act. Fees such as camping and cabin rentals and others will remain in effect.