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National Parks will be free on anniversary of signing of Great American Outdoors Act

Bryce Canyon is viewed from Sunset Point looking North at Bryce Canyon National Park in 1999. File Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI | License Photo

July 29 (UPI) — U.S. National Parks, wildlife refuges and other federal land will be free on the anniversary of the signing of Great American Outdoors Act.

The U.S. Interior Department announced that entrance fees would be waived on Aug. 4 for all federal land it manages. Other fees, such as overnight camping fees and cabin rentals, will remain in effect.

The Great American Outdoors Act was heralded as “a bipartisan investment that improves visitor experiences, bolsters climate resilience, and invests in the economy by creating good-paying jobs in our national parks, wildlife refuges, recreation areas, and Bureau of Indian Education (BIE)-funded schools.”

Former President Donald Trump signed the legislation into law in 2020. It was introduced first in the U.S. Senate by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., where it won 73-25 approval.

It passed the U.S. House with a vote of 310-107, where it was co-sponsored by then Rep. Deb Haaland of New Mexico. Haaland was later tapped by President Joe Biden to serve as Secretary of the Interior.

“The Great American Outdoors Act ensures that our public lands are safe and accessible for all visitors and staff by investing billions of dollars in infrastructure projects,” Haaland said in a statement Friday.

“I was proud to co-sponsor this historic law, which provides critical investments in our public lands to ensure they are ready to meet the challenges of climate change, while boosting the American economy by creating good-paying jobs.”

The law allocates $900 million for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and guarantees full annual funding for the first time since its creation in 1964. The fund is used for federal acquisition of land and waters and provides state grants for outdoor recreational facilities.

It also establishes the National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund and earmarked about $9.5 billion over five years to carry out long-deferred maintenance projects on lands administered by the National Park Service, the Forest Service and other branches of the Interior Department.

The funds provided by the law have since allowed the Interior Department to fund 276 deferred maintenance projects and improve the condition of more than 2,200 public assets across the United States and its territories.

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