This week, Department of Interior Secretary David Bernhardt established the Great American Outdoors Act Coordination and Implementation Task Force to apply the Department of the Interior’s portion of the Great American Outdoors Act, which was signed into law by President Donald Trump last week.
The law will address the historically underfunded, multi-billion-dollar deferred maintenance backlog at national parks and public lands in addition to funding new public access projects across the country. $9.5 billion over the next five years will be dedicated to tackling deferred maintenance needs, and $900 million per year into perpetuity will be invested from the Land and Water Conservation Fund for new conservation and recreation opportunities.
“I’ve established a task force to maximize the impact of the (GAOA) and determine priority funding needs, so we can expeditiously serve the American public in rebuilding their national parks, American Indian schools and public lands,” said Bernhardt.
Secretary Bernhardt signed Secretary’s Order 3383 establishing the task force, which shall:
Develop a strategy to maximize the impact of GAOA. The strategy shall ensure a timely project proposal and review process that minimizes delay and ensures decisive action; cuts across Bureaus; and includes establishment and utilization of a centralized project management office.
Identify an initial list of priority deferred maintenance projects that are ready to be implemented in Fiscal Year 2021 and provide the list to the Secretary of the Interior within 50 days of the date of this Order.
Evaluate staffing needs and direct relevant Bureaus/Offices to initiate necessary hiring and recruitment efforts.
Identify additional policies and/or revisions to existing policies or practices that are needed to maximize successful implementation of the GAOA.
Develop best management practices for deferred maintenance projects; and
Recommend such other actions as may be necessary to fulfill the goals of this Order.
Each of the Department of Interior’s bureau heads are responsible for designating a representative to serve as a liaison to the Task Force. The Task Force will work with other federal agencies and tribes to effectively implement the Act.
The RV Industry Association said its federal affairs team is already working with the Department of Interior to ensure campground modernization is a priority as the plans are made for implementing the GAOA.