WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife, issued the following statement after the Senate passed the Great American Outdoors Act, legislation he cosponsored which addresses the maintenance backlog across the National Parks Service including at Theodore Roosevelt National Park in Medora, North Dakota:
“Passing the Great American Outdoors Act brings us one step closer to making significant, necessary improvements not only at Theodore Roosevelt National Park but also on our public lands and at Native American schools across North Dakota. Senators Cory Gardner and Steve Daines did an excellent job shepherding this important legislation through the Senate, and I thank the Trump administration for proposing this idea and working with Congress to pass it. I urge the House to take it up and send it to the President’s desk soon.”
Senator Cramer cosponsored the Great American Outdoors Act in March, and President Trump endorsed it earlier this year. The final bill includes nearly $2 billion per year over the next five years to address the maintenance backlog within our National Parks, Public Lands and Indian Education schools. It includes the Restore Our Parks Act which Senator Cramer helped introduce in February of 2019. He also cosponsored a similar provision when he served in the House of Representatives. In October, Senator Cramer hosted Interior Secretary David Bernhardt’s trip to North Dakota, where they visited Theodore Roosevelt National Park to examine deferred maintenance and voiced support for passing this legislation.
North Dakotans, conservation leaders, former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, and current Interior Secretary David Bernhardt all expressed their appreciation for Senator Cramer’s support for this bill.
"North Dakota is where Teddy Roosevelt began American Conservation. Senator Cramer best emulates that legacy,” said former Secretary Zinke. “He’s fought to keep our public lands accessible for the benefit and enjoyment of all Americans."
“I appreciate Senator Cramer for his work to support this historic legislation,”said Secretary Bernhardt. “President Trump took bold action and provided unprecedented support for Congress to fix the aging infrastructure at our national parks and to simultaneously and permanently fund conservation projects. It’s now time for the House to move this commonsense solution forward for the President’s signature.”
“The American Conservation Coalition is proud to stand with Senator Cramer, who by cosponsoring the Great American Outdoors Act demonstrated his commitment to our shared desire of preserving vital public lands like Theodore Roosevelt National Park and the Sheyanne National Grassland,” said Sydney Arends, Jamestown Resident and Midwest Regional Coordinator of American Conservation Coalition Campus. “As a conservative North Dakotan, I have found solace in the same beautiful places that Teddy Roosevelt did over 130 years ago. Exploring our public lands has instilled in me the same appreciation for our great state's beauty that President Roosevelt had, as well as his desire to preserve that beauty for future generations. The Senate passing this legislation brings us one step closer to that goal.”
“Senate passage of the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) is a remarkable achievement in advancing historic bipartisan legislation for our national parks. The National Park Foundation is grateful for Senator Cramer’s commitment to caring for special places like Theodore Roosevelt National Park,” Will Shafroth, President and CEO of the National Park Foundation. “GAOA will ensure that our parks receive the funding required to address deferred maintenance needs, that parks remain accessible to all Americans, and continue to serve as economic engines for local communities in North Dakota and across the country.”
“Senator Cramer’s support of the Great American Outdoors Act will make a difference at places like Theodore Roosevelt National Park and other park sites across the nation,” said Marcia Argust, Project Director of the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Restore America’s Parks campaign. “This historic legislation will not only preserve and protect our national parks and help sustain local communities that depend on park tourism, but according to the National Park Service will generate up to 100,000 jobs.”
“Theodore Roosevelt’s Elkhorn Ranch outside Medora, North Dakota is considered the cradle of American conservation. His experiences there ultimately led Roosevelt to conserve 230 million acres of public lands in his lifetime,” said Bismarck’s Mike Eggl, a North Dakota sportsman. “So, for many North Dakotans, the passage of this legislation to care for these lands has special resonance and meaning.”
The Great American Outdoors Act also provides relief for the maintenance backlog at other federal agencies like the Bureau of Indian Education, Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), which Senator Cramer has direct oversight of through of the EPW Subcommittee Chairmanship.