A flock of birds flying over water with snow covered mountains in the background

About GAOA

Mission

The Department of the Interior (DOI, Interior Department) Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) program is investing in much-needed maintenance for critical facilities and infrastructure in our national parks, wildlife refuges, recreation areas, and BIE-funded schools.

About the Legislation 

The Great American Outdoors Act was enacted on August 4, 2020. GAOA is the single largest investment in public lands in U.S. history. This landmark legislation established:

  • A new National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund (LRF) to address the deferred maintenance and repair (DM&R) backlog on public lands. It was authorized at up to $1.9 billion annually for five years from Fiscal Year 2021 to Fiscal Year 2025.
  • Permanent full funding for the existing Land and Water Conservation Fund  of $900 million

Purpose of the Legacy Restoration Fund

America’s public lands are national treasures. Lands managed by the Interior Department include 480 million acres at 2,400 locations—20 percent of the country’s total lands and waters. Each year, millions of people visit our public lands to enjoy the beauty and recreation opportunities they offer. However, years of shrinking budgets and increasing visitor usage led to a backlog of deferred maintenance and repair projects. The LRF provides funding for overdue maintenance and infrastructure needs managed by the Department of the Interior. This ensures visitors and staff are safe and comfortable as they access our national parks, public lands and roads, national wildlife refuges, and BIE-funded schools.

The Great American Outdoors Act works together with funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, America the Beautiful initiative, and other investments to strengthen our infrastructure and prepare it to meet future needs. Prior to GAOA, many large projects were out of reach. These projects—involving recreation facilities, visitor centers, dams, water and utility infrastructure, schools, historic structures, roads, trails, bridges, and other assets—create jobs, support the economy, and benefit local communities as they preserve our public lands.

Program Funding

Funding for the LRF is divided among four Interior Department bureaus and one agency within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA): DOI’s National Park Service (70 percent), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (5 percent), Bureau of Land Management (5 percent), Bureau of Indian Education (5 percent), and USDA's U.S. Forest Service (15 percent).

The LRF is financed by 50 percent of all energy development revenues from oil, gas, coal, or alternative or renewable energy development on Federal land and water, up to $1.9 billion per fiscal year.

GAOA Program Operations

Each year, DOI bureaus recommend projects for GAOA funding that support the following program goals:

Briefcase and money sign icon
Improve DOI’s financial health by reducing deferred maintenance, reducing departmental asset management costs, and incorporating additional funding sources

Large group of people
Maximize citizens served by improving Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility, expanding recreation access, and prioritizing high-use facilities

Symbol of hands holding a heart
Protect those we serve with projects that increase safety for the public, BIE-funded school students, school staff, and the DOI workforce

Symbol of a trend line going upward on a graph
Plan for the future with projects that incorporate conservation, future recreational needs, and educational opportunities into the design

DOI bureaus also consider other factors when determining which projects to recommend for GAOA funding, including project readiness, whether projects are high-cost and difficult to fund through other means, and alignment with Administration priorities.

For more information about the types of projects that are being funded by LRF, see Projects.

Maintenance Action Teams

DOI issues contracts to external parties to execute the majority of funded GAOA projects. Some smaller maintenance activities are completed by DOI employees as part of Maintenance Action Teams (MATs). The use of in-house experienced and skilled tradespeople allows the Interior Department to address small-to-medium-sized DM&R projects more efficiently and at a lower cost than using outside contractors for the same work.

National Park Service MATs focus on specific regional areas and target similar assets in those regions, such as coastal parks, adobe masonry, National Cemeteries, and island parks. Once assets are returned to good condition, MATs can help perform regular maintenance, protecting these investments and extending asset lifecycles. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service MAT activities include earthwork, water management, trail building, and other civil works rehabilitation projects.

For more information on GAOA program operations, see Frequently Asked Questions.

 


Click an icon below to explore a bureau GAOA website

The NPS logo
   
FWS logo with a duck taking off from the water
  
BLM logo with an illustrated mountain
BIE logo