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.
The Great American Outdoors Act, enacted on August 4, 2020, is the single largest investment in public lands in U.S. history. This landmark legislation established:
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, Line Item Construction, Federal Lands Transportation Program, entrance fees (authorized by The Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act), Facility Operations & Maintenance Funding through annual discretionary appropriations, 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. Interior’s strategy for maximizing the impact of GAOA LRF funding can be found in the GAOA LRF Strategic Plan.
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.
Each year, DOI bureaus recommend projects for GAOA funding that support the following program goals:
Improve DOI’s financial health by reducing deferred maintenance, reducing departmental asset management costs, and incorporating additional funding sources
Maximize citizens served by improving Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility, expanding recreation access, and prioritizing high-use facilities
Protect those we serve with projects that increase safety for the public, BIE-funded school students, school staff, and the DOI workforce
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.
To expand the reach of GAOA funding to a broader range of Interior sites, the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service funded Maintenance Action Team (MAT) activities. These MATs primarily consist of federal employees who mobilize regionally to work on smaller scope construction, demolition, rehabilitation, or preservation activities. For more information about MATs, please visit our MAT webpage.
For more information on GAOA program operations, see Frequently Asked Questions.
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