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Great American Outdoors Act

At a time when there is so much negativity in the news, I would like to submit a positive. I want to tell your readers, up front, that I gleaned the following information from an organization, The Nature Conservancy, to which I contribute in a small way each year.

The Nature Conservancy is a non-profit, non-political organization whose “mission is to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends.” They work with the individuals, states, our national government and foreign countries. When our lives changed so radically last spring with the onset of COVID-19, millions of people turned to nature for relief from the stress and boredom of life during a pandemic. I quote from the TNC, “With the pandemic heading toward a second year, it has become clear that health and sanity often depend on our ability to get outdoors. Fortunately, the United States just took a huge step toward that goal with the signing of the Great American Outdoors Act, a new federal legislation that many are calling the most significant action on conservation in decades.”

Signed by President Trump in August, the Great American Outdoors Act allocates $1.9 billion annually for five years to pay for maintenance in national parks and federally managed lands. This bill also, for the first time, fully funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which will receive $900 million each year. There are tens of thousands of bikeways and greenways, local parks and state parks that have benefited from this fund, including the Upper Peninsula, which got nearly $10 million to help protect 423 square miles of “pure wilderness.”

When there are many who are finding it hard to feed their families, this might not seem relevant, but history tells us that we humans “sink or swim” depending on how we treat nature. Readers who wish to know more about The Nature Conservancy can check their website, www.nature.org.

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