It’s crunch time to get the Great American Outdoors Act passed in the U.S. Senate.
Since 1916, when Congress passed Teddy Roosevelt’s dream of a National Park Service, access to our public lands and waters has been a mainstay of American outdoor recreation, and a symbol of our commitment to conservation.
This week, the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act in Congress will be a boost for boating’s future as it will maximize access to our public lands and waters; restore and improve launching ramps; provide more docks and marine facilities; improve campgrounds, trails and much more.
The bill is expected to come up for a vote this Thursday in the Senate. So, your action — and that of your employees, friends and more — to push your state’s senators to support the bill is needed.
Millions of Americans are eager for opportunities to get outdoors and enjoy our national parks in the wake of the covid-19 pandemic. But access is currently threatened by backlogged maintenance costs, chiefly due to a lack of funding. And the backlog is only getting larger each year.
Please take a few minutes to tell Congress to support the Great American Outdoors Act to fund our public lands and waters. Provisions in the Great American Outdoors Act include:
Funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which is the federal government’s prime tool for maximizing boating and access and creating close-to-home recreation opportunities; and The Restore Our Parks Act, which calls for improving docks, ramps and restrooms, and more.
Florida fishing celebrates
It’s a major success story for anglers in Florida. The Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission (FWC) will implement a new State Reef Fish Survey, a huge step forward for recreational data collection that will lead to improved management of important species in the Sunshine State.
Beginning July 1, Florida anglers targeting certain reef fish species must register for the free State Reef Fish Survey. Registered anglers will be randomly selected to provide information on their catch by mail and/or may also be interviewed dockside.
“This is a huge accomplishment for Florida’s 4 million anglers,” said Kellie Ralston, the Southeast Fisheries Policy director for the American Sportfishing Association. “With a background of significant past gains in access for anglers in the Gulf of Mexico, we’re excited about what can now be accomplished on the Atlantic side now that the survey has been expanded statewide.”
The boating and fishing industry have called for improved data on offshore species and the FWC has been responsive. In 2015 the FWC implemented its first Gulf Reef Fish Survey. It proved to be an important consideration for the delegation of Gulf red snapper management in state and federal waters — resulting in a dramatic increase in recreational angler access to the prized red snapper from a proposed 3-day federal season in 2017 to a 45-day season in 2020.
Ralston added: “We also appreciate the leadership and support of Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida legislature in recognizing the importance of the state’s $11.5 billion sportfishing industry and the need for this survey. Florida is the “Fishing Capital of the World,” with more than four million anglers who generate $11.5 billion in economic impact, support more than 106,000 jobs and contribute $56.7 million to state conservation efforts through license fees and special taxes on motorboat fuel and equipment.”