Biden targets $2.8B for conservation, outdoor recreation
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration on Thursday proposed funding for dozens of conservation and recreation projects across the country as it allocates $2.8 billion in grants and programs authorized by a landmark conservation law enacted last year.
Congress approved the Great American Outdoors Act by wide, bipartisan majorities with a mandate to support rural economies, boost outdoor recreation and improve access to public lands. The law authorizes $900 million per year — double previous spending — for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and $1.9 billion per year on improvements at national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and rangelands.
Projected spending in the next fiscal year includes $19.4 million to rehabilitate the popular Ahwahnee Hotel at Yosemite National Park in California, and $91.3 million at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming to replace the Yellowstone River Bridge and upgrade the wastewater treatment system at the park's famed Old Faithful geyser.
On the other side of the country, the National Park Service is set to spend $27.4 million to repair historic structures at the Minute Man National Historical Park in Concord, Massachusetts, and $32.8 million to improve the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia. Minute Man is among those that will be featured in upcoming commemorations of the 250th anniversary of the United States.
The Interior Department also plans to spend a total of $77 million at Big Bend National Park in Texas to rehabilitate a water system and repair the Chisos Mountain Lodge, and $24.9 million at Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio to stabilize its riverbank and support its well-used towpath trail.
All are popular tourist destinations that expect to see an increase in visitors as restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic ease.