Seven Retired U.S. Military Generals Write Congress on the Importance of America’s Public Lands to National Post-Pandemic Healing
The Former Generals Urge Congress to Fully Fund the Land & Water Conservation Fund in the Next Stimulus Bill, Pass the Great American Outdoors Act to Support Healing in Nature
The letter, which was organized by Vet Voice Foundation, urges Congress to pass the Great American Outdoors Act in its next economic stimulus package as a means to both expand access to America’s public lands, but also provide critical economic stimulus for the rural and gateway communities and outdoor recreation businesses that help Americans experience nature.
The Great American Outdoors Act would fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund and provide additional revenue to close the maintenance backlog in America’s National Parks. The former generals note how the LWCF has invested $18.4 billion to preserve battlefields and other historic sites, protect iconic places from Grand Canyon National Park to the Appalachian Trail, and has supported 42,000 state and local projects since its founding.
SEE THE FULL LETTER AND LIST OF SIGNERS HERE: https://www.vetvoicefoundation.org/projects/conservation-campaign/open-letter-7-generals-lwcf
The letter states:
“The connection between military veterans and our nation’s public lands is well-documented and in recent years has become much more publicized — especially in the value of spending time outdoors to heal from traumatic experiences associated with one’s military service. And for good reason. Time spent outdoors is healing. The feeling of the sun on one’s face, the swift current of a river, coming around a bend in the trail and being awe-struck by an incredible vista — these are unforgettable moments, and for many, therapeutic ones.
Of course, military veterans aren’t the only Americans exposed to trauma. In fact, we’re all going through an unprecedented and challenging experience right now due to COVID-19. And that’s the point. We’re writing this letter with the sincere hope that when federal, state, and local officials determine it’s safe and following the shelter-in-place orders in response to COVID-19, individuals from around the country will be able to take a page from our handbook and use the power of public lands and time outdoors to heal and adjust to post COVID-19 life. It works.
Since its launch in 1964, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has invested $18.4 billion to preserve battlefields and other historic sites, protect iconic places from Grand Canyon National Park to the Appalachian Trail, and has supported 42,000 state and local projects — at least one in every county, in every state in the country. It’s also worth noting during this time of economic uncertainty that the Land and Water Conservation Fund also serves as a powerful economic driver, stimulating tourism and generating a U.S. outdoor recreation economy of $887 billion in consumer spending and creating 7.6 million jobs. All without costing the American taxpayer a dime.
It’s for these reasons that the veteran and military family community has been so involved in efforts to see the Land and Water Conservation Fund fully and permanently funded — through a stand-alone piece of legislation like the Great American Outdoors Act or as part of a COVID-19 infrastructure economic stimulus package. Investing in our public lands will ensure continued access for all Americans and generate economic activity in communities surrounding these sites.”
“From the Redwood forest to the Hoover Dam to the Grand Canyon, the healing power of our nation’s public lands have never been more important,” said Paul Eaton, a Retired U.S. Army Major General. “Our nation’s veterans have a deep understanding of the role America’s green spaces will play in our nation’s post-coronavirus recovery and healing – and call on Congress to take swift action to protect them by fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund in the next stimulus package.”
Federal lands contribute more than $50 billion to the American economy each year and support hundreds of thousands of jobs in local communities across the country. Studies have shown that America’s outdoor recreation economy supports over 7.6 million jobs, contributes over $887 billion in annual economic output; serves as the lifeblood for countless communities across the country; and that every dollar spent on LWCF returns $4 in economic value from natural resource goods and services alone – over and above the economic benefit of the outdoor recreation economy and tourism.
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Founded in 2009, the mission of Vet Voice Foundation is to mobilize veterans to become leaders in our nation’s democracy through participation in the civic and democratic process. VVF seeks to harness the energy and drive of the dedicated men and women who have fought for their country, and put it to work at home and in their communities on the important issues they face, such as health care, jobs, the environment, and housing.
SOURCE: Madison Donzis | Unbendable Media